Riverglades Boundary sign now

Governor Crist,

We are contacting you concerning the Class Size Amendment and School Concurrency as contained in FS 163.3180, Section 13 (SB 360), sponsored by Senator Bennett and passed into law in 2005. The bill was intended to address growth management and infrastructure requirements for new development.

We live in Parkland in Broward County. We have children who attend or we live in neighborhoods that are boundered for Riverglades Elementary School. We live within 2 1/2 miles of the school.

This year, our school has been forced to go through a boundary-change process. The combination of the class size amendment and the strict requirements for school concurrency in FS 163.3180 are coming together to create a "perfect storm" at our school and others.

We are not going through this process because we are experiencing growth; we have had declining enrollment for over 5 years.

We are not going through this process because we're failing to meet the class size amendment requirements; we're almost meeting the hard caps for all grades.

We are not going through this process because we dont have significant capacity within our city for any new development; we have two schools with a capacity projection of 65\% over the next 5 years.

We are going through this process because of concurrency requirements in FS 163.3180 and the Broward County Interlocal Agreement.

The Broward County ILA mandates that all of the schools in Broward County have to be at no more than 110\% of their permanent capacity by a particular date. The law mandates that this date must be no later than 2013 for all schools in the district. Since our school has been deemed "critically overcrowded" because of the reduction in capacity as a result of the class size amendment we are now a part of the growth management process. The ILA was passed with input from the DCA and other state agencies who issued guidelines as to how to proceed.

As a result, our local school board has embarked on the long and tedious journey of boundary processes to satisfy the conflicting mandates of the class size amendment and school concurrency.

On the one hand, the class size amendment allows the use of portables for compliance with the amendment. Our neighborhood school is meeting the HARD CAP requirements of the class size amendment for nearly every grade in the school with 7 portables. On the other hand, concurrency legislation does not allow the use of portables for compliance. The result is that schools all over Broward County are going to be forced into boundary changes, in some cases for as little as 44 students.

The boundary staff in Broward County has expressed extreme frustration in trying to meet these conflicting mandates. They have made many suggestions to the Board as to how to remedy the situation. In their own words, the mandates and the different requirements are "mind boggling". They have been informed that most of their suggestions violate state law so they can't be used to try and stop the insanity of massive, and in some cases, extremely small, boundary changes.

In our particular case, the board is proposing sending 250 children at an ADDITIONAL cost of $147,000 per year to a school that is 6 miles away. Approximately 3/4 of these children are currently within walking distance to our neighborhood school. Taxpayer money has already been spent on building sidewalks and other infrastructure for these kids to walk.

Another school in a neighboring city will have 98 kids sent from their current middle school to another middle school in another city. Why? The middle school that they currently attend is over its permanent capacity by 95 kids. Since the board allows phasing in of kids already in middle school, the kids in these neighborhoods that are in 6th or 7th grade this year will be allowed to stay at the existing school. But the kids in 5th grade will go to a different school next year. Therefore there will be 2 sets of buses going to the same neighborhoods to take kids to 2 different middle schools. This is absolutely insane and is a waste of monumental proportions.

To add insult to injury, the neighborhoods that are right across the street from us, which is a two-lane road, will continue to be boundered for the existing school. Part of the affected area is identical to the area across the street - same neighborhood, same kinds of houses, lot sizes, and price ranges. The implications for our property values are obvious. Buy a house on the north side of the road and you get to take a bus two miles or less to school (they have no sidewalks and therefore get buses no matter the distance). Buy a house on the south side of the road and you get to take a bus 6 miles to school. What would you do?

Needless to say the parent's in the affected area have been trying to get someone's attention in pointing out the utter insanity that is the result of all of these mandates. We are not happy about what is being forced upon us and why. The area that we live in is 100\% built-out; there is not a square inch of land left to build on. We are the oldest part of the city. We are stable and established. Most of the neighborhoods have been zoned for this school since it opened in 1993. There is no good reason to force us out of our neighborhood school, especially when we are so close to meeting the strictest requirements of the class size amendment.

What we are experiencing is the unintended consequences of FS 163.3180. Families and neighborhoods are being torn apart, as 5th graders are being allowed to stay at the school but not their younger siblings. So what is a parent, especially a working parent, to do? Drive one to school, put the other on a bus, pick them up from two different after-care programs, or tell the older one that they can't graduate from the elementary school that they've been attending for 5 years? Scouting troops are being split up since most troops recruit in schools. There are troops where one child from the entire school will be boundered out of the school.

Furthermore, our current school is going to lose Spanish as a special next year. Is it logical to spend what will amount to $1m over 6 years on busing (for just our boundary change) yet cut specials and other services to the kids? Does this make sense at a time when budgets are being cut to the bare bones? It is the height of irresponsibility to spend money on non-value activities like busing given the current state of the economy. Broward County has had discussions about dipping into reserves next school year yet we can find money for buses?

We are not looking to be reassigned or boundered into another school. Our school board frequently suggests this as an alternative to remaining in our neighborhood school. We don't want any alternatives; we want to stay in our neighborhood school. We bought our houses based on our children attending, and, in many cases, walking to this school. We have invested countless hours of time and raised and donated a lot of money to this school. There are many of us in the affected area that are considering going private as a result of this action; some are on waiting lists. We are also planning on appealing our property tax bills, as it is not possible for our homes to not experience a reduction in value based on this arbitrary and unnecessary decision. These mandates are ultimately going to result in more money being taken out of the school system.

In short, the legislation contained in FS 163.3180 was meant to address GROWTH, not sweep up stable, established, 100\% built-out areas and turn people's lives upside down. The legislation is too stringent, too myopic, and too ignorant of the reality on the ground. It ignores the changing landscape of time. All of Broward County is near 100\% build-out. Our schools and residents have struggled with growth and over-crowding for YEARS. Now that we have declining population, stability and almost 100\% build-out we are being forced into growth management? This makes no sense.

As time goes on there are going to be more and more of these changes that happen in Broward County. There are currently 27 schools that are going to go through boundary processes over the next two years and 27 more that are on watch for possible boundary changes. Where will it end? It is not a stretch to imagine that every time a school approaches 110\% of capacity there will be a boundary change process.

The parent's and homeowner's in our area, whose signatures follow this letter, are looking to your office to give us some relief from this insanity. We have been told that there is essentially no chance that the Broward County ILA can be amended. At the very least there should be a moratorium on complying with the mandates of concurrency until the affects of and glitches in the bill can be further evaluated. If a school is compliant with class size and they are in an area that is 100\% built-out they should NOT be forced into growth management. While we understand that there is room for exemption from concurrency compliance, the rules for exemption are entirely too strict and unrealistic.

We look forward to a response from DCA, from which this legislation originated, and your office concerning this matter.






















Sign The Petition

Sign with Facebook
OR

If you already have an account please sign in, otherwise register an account for free then sign the petition filling the fields below.
Email and the password will be your account data, you will be able to sign other petitions after logging in.

Privacy in the search engines? You can use a nickname:

Attention, the email address you supply must be valid in order to validate the signature, otherwise it will be deleted.

I confirm registration and I agree to Usage and Limitations of Services

I confirm that I have read the Privacy Policy

I agree to the Personal Data Processing

Shoutbox

Who signed this petition saw these petitions too:

Sign The Petition

Sign with Facebook
OR

If you already have an account please sign in

Comment

I confirm registration and I agree to Usage and Limitations of Services

I confirm that I have read the Privacy Policy

I agree to the Personal Data Processing

Goal
0 / 50

Latest Signatures

No one has signed this petition yet

Information

Jodi PettyBy:
FoodIn:
Petition target:
Gov. Charlie Crist, Sen. Jeremy Ring, Rep. Martin Kiar, Sen. Mike Bennet, Sen. Nancy Detert, Sen. Gary Siplin, Mr. James Notter

Tags

No tags

Share

Invite friends from your address book

Embed Codes

direct link

link for html

link for forum without title

link for forum with title

Widgets