Miami Herald: Relief center plan lifts spirits

Dec 17, 2009

The Miami Herald published this article on December 17, 2009.


Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recently informed Doral officials that he has found the millions necessary to move forward with a planned center to relieve the growing Ronald Reagan Doral Senior High School.

That news lifted the spirits of council members and parents who worried students would be sent to schools outside the city in future years as Ronald Reagan, 8600 NW 107th Ave., reaches the 2,000-student limit.

They think the relief center coupled with a recently launched aggressive address verification program to enforce the county rule that children must attend their assigned schools should solve expected crowding.

“If they build the school, that should alleviate a lot of headaches,” said Ronald Reagan’s PTSA President Daniel Machin, whose twin boys attend the school. “And with the city double-checking the addresses, we’re going to have more than enough space.”

Until recently, school board officials kept telling the city they did not have the money to complete the promised relief center on an 8.7-acre piece of land the district owns across from the high school.

So city officials flirted with the following options:

  • Renaissance Academy offered to build a school on the property where the ninth-grade relief center is supposed to go if the school board gave permission.
  • Doral Academy Preparatory School proposed adding 800 student seats to its charter high school campus in time for the 2010-11 school year. But that plan reached an impasse when school officials asked the city for financial aid.

In one scenario, the city would have paid $2 million toward construction costs in return for use of the gym and amphitheater on nights and weekends. In another scenario, the city would issue bonds, and Doral Academy would make lease payments to the city.

Both plans have been put on hold as city officials wait for the school board to move forward with construction plans for the relief center, which is expected to cost at least $15 million. That vote could come in January, said Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez.

“This would put an end to some of these discussions,” he said. “If the city doesn’t have to spend any money and get to resolve the problem by working with the school system, that’s the best resolution.”

But some Ronald Reagan parents are a little wary of school board promises.

“It’s good that the school board found the money. They have a huge responsibility toward this community. We pay huge, huge taxes,” said Marie-

Noelle Punyed, whose sons attend the school. “We are happy that they’re going to do it. When they’re going to do it, well, promises are promises.”

Carvalho did not return phone calls seeking comment.

8600 NW 107th Ave., Doral, Fl 33178