By Bryan Boggiano
After recommending tabling the MSD rezoning until the 2024-2025 school year, the School Board of Broward County ultimately voted to reject a proposal from the interim superintendent that would have kept all high school boundaries the same in the 2023-2024 school year.
The board made their decision at Wednesday’s public hearing at Coral Springs High School, following a series of rapidly developing events prior to the meeting’s start when an unspecified person emailed the board alleging the district did not fully comply with Policy 5000 during the MSD rezoning process.
Policy 5000 sets the guidelines for the boundary change process in the district.
After conversations with Chair Lori Alhadeff and district staff, Interim Superintendent Dr. Earline Smiley recommended that the board keep all high school boundaries in Broward County, including MSD, unchanged for the upcoming school year.
The board was ultimately slated to vote on that recommendation and put off the MSD rezoning until the 2024-2025 school year.
The development received pushback from multiple meeting attendees, including Commissioner Jordan Isrow, who criticized the board for their last-minute decision and reasoning for removing the C4 MSD rezoning recommendation.
He accused the district of foregoing the MSD rezoning to appease one person who might threaten legal action because of a procedural error.
“Doing nothing — that’s creating more problems,” he said. “I can’t stand here and just accept it.”
Mayor Rich Walker emphasized the safety issues surrounding MSD’s overcrowding, arguing that boundary changes were necessary.
“For anyone to say they were not aware of the issue, you have not been paying attention,” he said.
Conversely, Coral Springs City Commissioner Joshua Simmons argued for a holistic approach to school rezoning that would not single out and put Parkland and Coral Springs against each other.
He also refuted speaker arguments that Cornerstone’s mixed-use development in Coral Springs would make MSD overcrowding more severe, stating it would not be filling up with families.
But Smiley’s recommendation was short-lived. The school board, claiming the overcrowding as an emergency, cited state law as a means to navigate around Policy 5000, largely siding with Parkland officials.
When questioned by District Two Board Member Tory Alston, Jaime Alberi, chief of safety, security, and emergency preparedness, stated the overcrowding at MSD posed potential safety issues. But he said the school is not unsafe.
School Board Members Brenda Fam and Daniel Foganholi noted the importance of safety. Alhadeff agreed with the safety and dismissed the rezoning resolution, required by Policy 5000, as a “piece of paper,” saying officials followed the rules and were open.
Board Member Jeff Holness argued for a solution that would satisfy both cities and help Coral Glades High School absorb more students.
Alston made the motion to reject Smiley’s recommendation and revert to the original proposal, citing the abruptness of the new proposal. Foganholi seconded.
Alston also refuted the process, stating the board is not automatically guaranteed to vote in favor of what the superintendent recommends or wants.
Board Member Allen Zeman stated there were no substitutes for the boundaries if the motion passed. In response, Alston said the motion was only to reject keeping the status quo.
“If it passes, we gotta figure it out; if it doesn’t pass, we gotta figure it out,” he said.
The motion to reject Smiley’s recommendation ultimately passed 4-3. Zeman, Member Sarah Leonardi, and Holness opposed. Foganholi, Alhadeff, Fam, and Alston supported.
The board also considered the H1 proposal, which would rezone a portion of Coral Springs students to Coral Glades High School in the upcoming school year.
Students living south of Wiles Road and north of Royal Palm Boulevard, between University Drive and Coral Springs Drive, would be affected.
That proposal ultimately passed 6-2. Fam, Foganholi, Alston, Alhadeff, Leonardi, and Zeman supported it. Vice Chair Debra Hixon and Holness opposed.
The board will discuss the boundary change again at their second public hearing on Wednesday, April 12, at the J.P. Taravella High School Auditorium, starting at 5:30 p.m.
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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