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Open letter to the Broward School Board

By Andrea Freygang

On Sept. 16, a final budget hearing to determine the tax rate for Broward County residents and business owners was held in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Over the past two years, the community, the Broward Teacher’s Union, teachers, parents and community leaders have expressed many concerns about the Broward School Board. All of us in this community are concerned about the state of education in Broward County and want to be sure that our children have the best opportunities to learn.

By holding the public budget hearing out of the Sunshine in front of only a few dozen teachers and parents is an affront to all of us who care about our schools and our children. Many of us work, and many of us have to spend several hours a night supervising our children’s homework.. It is almost impossible to attend these meetings and do our proper jobs as parents.

I personally spend many hours at government meetings, but I am only one person and can only attend so many meetings. I also work a full-time job. This meeting should have been live streamed to the general public.

According to the Florida Sunshine Manual (Click here to read this section in detail), government entities are advised to use technology when a large block of the community is interested in a particular topic.

“If a huge public turnout is anticipated for a particular issue and the largest available public meeting room cannot accommodate all of those who are expected to attend, the use of video technology (e.g., a television screen outside the meeting room) may be appropriate. In such cases, as with other open meetings, reasonable steps to provide an opportunity for public participation in the proceedings should also be considered.”

With 250,000-plus students in the system, there is no place in Broward that would hold 500,000 parents. As taxpayers, we are charged for a Broward County Public Schools program called Becon-TV, or the Broward Education Communication Network. According to the 2006-2007 budget year, the BECON program spent $7,331,021, or $20,000 a day roughly. (See itemized list at bottom of article.) The full budget links for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 found here in the investor’s section of the Broward School Board Website are broken. The 2009-2010 link found at the bottom of the article here is also broken. 2010-2011 is being updated after Thursday night’s hearing and hopefully will be posted upon completion.

The program is wonderful, but the Broward School Board should take advantage of this technology that we, the taxpayers, are funding. While this may not be a Sunshine violation that could go to court, during these economic times when families are working multiple part-time jobs and juggling children as well as many other responsibilities, the Broward School Board should step up and publicly broadcast their discussions in the Sunshine.

Over the last few years, Broward residents have seen a number of elected officials arrested on a wide variety of corruption charges. Broward County commissioners have been forced by the voters to enact an ethics code as well as a county-wide inspector general to be a watchdog for corruption in this county. The Broward School Board itself recently issued a press release on how it was updating its ethics code based on recommendations from the “Broward Schools Commission on Education Excellence through Integrity, Public Ethics and Transparency” (isn’t that a mouthful?).

It’s time to publicly broadcast all Broward School Board meetings just like the Broward County Commission meetings are publicly broadcast on cable TV, as advertised here on the Broward Schools website. The same technology could be applied to streaming the meetings over the Internet such as other local cities are doing. (Contact your Broward school board members by clicking here for contact information.)

I am a local parent, a reporter, a Broward Schools graduate and Fort Lauderdale native. I know there are many other parents out there concerned about what’s going on in their schools. I also wear hearing aids, and for me, the broadcasting is an assistive device that allows me to watch in a much quieter environment. I am hereby requesting for myself, and on behalf of the community, that you provide the proper accommodations as well as taking the initiative to operate in the Sunshine.

So, to the Broward School Board members, are you going to operate in the Sunshine, or are you going to continue the old model that keeps the public unaware of the business decisions being made on behalf of our children and our community?

Note: This letter will also be mailed to all the Broward School Board members.

Total cost: $7,331,021 2006-2007

Boyd Anderson: $5000 Becon equipment

Remodeling/renovations 31,602

WKPX/Funds For Design, Equip, Et 2,100,000

Silver Lakes 100,000

Twin Lakes Complex – Becon Tower: 70,000

Becon Broadcast Wireless Project: District-wide: $1.5 million

BECON WPPB Tower Site (Ft. Laud) (electrical/fire deficiencies) $1,000


BECON/ITV Restrooms 150,000

BECON/ITV Wheelchair Lifts 105,000

BECON/ITV Exterior Ramps 60,000

BECON/ITV Interior Doors 40,000

BECON/ITV Non-accessible Reception Counters 10,000

BECON/ITV Signage 8,000

BECON/ITV Visual Alarms at Restrooms 8,000

BECON/ITV Equipment 1,097,200

BECON/ITV Equipment 750,000

BECON/ITV Equipment 500,000

BECON/ITV Equipment 500,000

BECON/ITV Equipment 250,345

BECON/ITV Equipment 40,000


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Posted by Andrea Freygang on Sep 17 2010. Filed under Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Latest news, Local news, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Open letter to the Broward School Board”

  1. Joe Goldner

    The school board is corrupt. People like Phylis C. Hope needs to be in prison not on the school board making decesions for our future , our children.
    In Nov. vote out Hope !!


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