My God, it's true: The Broward County School Board has squandered millions of dollars on seemingly everything it has touched. It took our property tax dollars and threw them way on unnecessary and ridiculously expensive schools.
The waste is everywhere you look. I told you about the $25 million drained on the unnecessary "Elementary C" in Hollywood yesterday. Just for kicks, I thought I'd check out Heron Heights Elementary, one of the new elementary schools opening today.
Heron Heights, formerly known as "Elementary School Z," was built for the generally wealthy kids of Heron Bay. The school has 960 seats and cost more than $30 million of your dollars to build (the building contractor is Skanska USA, the design consultant Song + Associates). That's not including the land either.
Why was it built? Ostensibly to relieve overcrowding at Park Trails and Riverglades elementaries. Well, according the district's own figures, the north area where all of those schools are located are now underenrolled by 2,762 elementary students. And understand that Broward County's student enrollment has been decreasing steadily since 2005 and is expected to continue to decrease for the next few years.
So instead of smartly reboundarying the area, they build a $30 million school that isn't needed. That's $30 million wasted had the board done what it was supposed to do, which is set new boundaries instead of feeding the construction machine.
So how are they selling it? Well, it's officially geared toward Heron Bay residents. You know, the millionaires. (Hey, I'm not going to beat up on Heron Bay too much, though, after what those guys have gone through with Chinese drywall. Seriously.)
Are you starting to see why the board is broke with $2 billion in debt? I estimated, based on the fact that the district is projected to have 34,800 empty seats by 2012 (I simply can't repeat that astounding figure enough), that the board wasted $350 million. I'm pretty sure it's way over half a billion at this point. It's clear: The board looted your money and ran itself into near-bankuptcy while it was at it.
In the old days, they'd all be run out of town on a rail. In Broward County, they're feted at groundbreaking ceremonies and campaign fundraisers. The obscenity defies belief.
So welcome back, kids!