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Broken promises marred last bond issue by Miami-Dade schools, which has new proposal on ballot

Years of school construction delays. Hundreds of millions in cost overruns. Broken promises. Shoddy construction.

Those were the headlines from the last time Miami-Dade voters agreed to pay extra property taxes to fund school construction and renovation.

When the measure passed in 1988, the $980 million bond was the largest ever in the country for school construction. It was meant to relieve crowded classrooms in the boom times of real-estate development and growth.

That program will end in 2017. Now, the Miami-Dade school system wants to launch a new one to fix aging buildings and modernize technology. Schools like Hialeah Senior High have cracks in the walls. Miami Norland Senior High has outdated electrical panels. Shenandoah Elementary needs plumbing.

Voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to approve a $1.2 billion bond issue that would be repaid over 30 years with an additional property tax..

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is staking his legacy on a promise: No waste. No delay. No communities left out.

“We’re relying on four years of unparalleled performance, both on the financial side as well as the academic side,” he said. “The best predictor of future success is past performance.”

In the end, the previous bond did get new schools built, including Barbara Goleman Senior High in Miami Lakes, Turner Tech in North Miami-Dade and Coral Reef Senior High in Southwest Miami-Dade, and others got renovated. The Miami Herald requested an analysis of the results of the 1988 bond issue, including a final work list and how the money was spent. School district spokesman John Schuster said a report is expected to be released in the days ahead.

Many community leaders have pledged support for the new bond, despite the mistakes of the past.

More from Laura Isensee here.

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