Miami-Dade County Public Schools — namely through its superintendent, Alberto Carvalho — has been one of the most vocal opponents in the past couple weeks against the Legislature’s approved K-12 spending for 2017-18 and related legislation (HB 7069) that has $419 million earmarked for special programs and myriad policy critics say would diminish traditional public education.
Now Florida’s largest school district is taking its opposition on the road to amplify its message in local neighborhoods — by hosting a series of six town hall meetings next week in Miami-Dade County.
The purpose of the events is “to discuss the financial forecast for Florida and the proposed budget for public education for next year,” the district said in a news release.
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the economic development of our community will be greatly impacted,” the district said. “Please stay informed, and help maintain world-class educational opportunities for our nearly 350,000 students.”
The district wants “PTA members, M-DCPS alumni, community groups, taxpayers, students, employees, and all who care about education” to attend.
The events will be held:
-- at 6 p.m. Monday at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Miami.
-- On Tuesday, at 6 p.m. at Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Pinecrest, and at 7:30 p.m. at John A. Ferguson Senior High School in Miami.
-- On Thursday, at 6 p.m. at Miami Senior High School in Miami, and at 7:30 p.m. at Miami Beach Senior High School in Miami Beach.
-- at 4 p.m. Friday at the School Board Administration auditorium in Miami and televised on WLRN Channel-17.
The debate over the 2017-18 budget and HB 7069 has staunchly divided traditional public school advocates and supporters of school choice and charter school expansion.
Both sides are escalating their public awareness campaigns to urge Gov. Rick Scott to either accept or reject the Legislature’s funding and policy decisions.
As of Thursday evening, the nearly 10,000 phone calls, emails, letters and individual petition signatures received by Scott's office were 3-to-1 against HB 7069 and/or the education budget.
Meanwhile, school choice proponents are stepping up their advocacy of the bill, in particular, through organized phone banks, letter-writing campaigns and even, in some schools, offering an incentive to parents if they write letters of support for the legislation.
Neither HB 7069 nor the main budget act have yet reached Scott’s desk. Once they do, he’ll have 15 days to either sign them, veto them or let them become law without his signature.