By: Sharon Aron Baron
Stating that it met all legal criteria for the special exception, the commission voted unanimously to approve a new charter school in Parkland at a special meeting.
In a marathon meeting lasting 13 hours over the course of two days including testimony by the city, applicant, and a hired attorney and traffic engineer by the residents, Vice Mayor Stacy Kagan made a motion to approve the school seconded by Commissioner Ken Cutler.
The school will be located on the northwest corner of University Drive and Hillsboro Blvd on 10.59 acres and enroll as many as 1,280 students once it achieves 100 percent capacity.
Parkland parents who were against the charter school formed a group called Parkland Against Traffic raising $15,000 to hire their own attorney and traffic engineer to rebut the findings from the traffic study by the city.
When it came time for her to vote, Mayor Christine Hunschofsky spoke about the history of the project. “It’s great everybody showed up here at 5:00 p.m., but this doesn’t start yesterday at 5:00 pm.”
Last November, residents who were against the school also attended and spoke out at the planning and zoning board meeting – which they voted no to recommend.
Hunschofsky mentioned that in 2014, the school was proposed to be a K-12 for 2,200 students which staff did not approve.
“I say this because it’s very easy to show up here yesterday at 5:00 p.m. ….and not understand the history and the context and the work that went on behind this.”
She said that on a personal note she hoped that everyone is extremely proud of the commission.
“I have never seen a commission that is so all-in for their residents. These people care incredibly about what happens.”
Kendra Fletcher, one of the organizers of Parkland Against Traffic wrote, “I believe it was a fair process and that each party was heard. It may not be the outcome we ultimately wanted, but I respect the mayor, vice mayor, and commissioners and I appreciate the effort, consideration, and discernment that they put into the process.”
During the commission meeting that began on Wednesday continuing into the early hours of Thursday morning 22 residents spoke, with the majority against the school. Others signed in to express that they were against the school, however, they did not speak.
The school will be ready for enrollment in the fall of 2019.