Good news has finally come for Broward County’s trouble $800 million General Obligation Bond Project for the Broward public school system. Unforeseen delays has impeded the, now called the Safety, Music/Arts, Athletics, Renovating, Technology (SMART) Initiative. But officials announced that it’s now making progress on the SMART initiative, including the planned renovation of existing school facilities and the construction of new buildings.
The Broward County School Board and Superintendent Robert Runcie has been the target of criticism since county voters approved an $800 million bond in November 2014.
But BCPS information officer Nadine Drew confirmed the district has hired former Houston School District Chief Operation Officer Leo Bobadilla as the Chief Facilities officer for the initiative’s renovations. Meanwhile, the Broward School Board has begun advertising for design and building services for major SMART projects at three county high schools: Blanche Ely, Stranahan and Northeast. The Board estimates the preliminary budget to improve the facilities at these schools at $45 million.
County Public School Superintendent Robert Runcie said the goal of the school District is to complete over 1,000 facility development SMART projects over the next five to seven years. Runcie also cited progress on the technology component of the SMART initiative. $80 million of the $800 million grant has been allocated to purchase new computers to improve the student-to-device ratio as a part of the District’s personalized 21st century learning objectives in county schools. The District is ahead schedule in this aspect of the initiative, and has ordered over 26,000 computers for over 60 schools. Of this amount 14,000 have been assigned to the schools, and ome 4,000 wireless access points have been installed in these schools.
The BCPS has also implemented the independent Bond Oversight Committee (BOC) to monitor the progress of projects under the SMART initiative. The committee is expected to issue its first quarterly report on November 30.
“We remain focused and relentless in our commitment to deliver on the promises made to the community, and to execute the SMART program with the highest level of integrity,” said Runcie. “Our children deserve nothing less.”