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Getting Back To Basics: Financial And Demographic Changes Have Triggered The Need To Rethink The District

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

March 28, 2024

Last week I shared the first part of this article on Redefining Our Schools. Over the past months the School Board of Broward County has been gathering input from all stakeholders in our local schools. Due to many changes including but not limited to student population decreases, charter schools, school vouchers, school choice and other financial factors changes need to be transformational. BCSB leadership has set out to address changes to ensure all students have equitable access to quality education and opportunity.

As part of this process Mayors were asked to share their observations and ideas to help level the playing field for our students. The following is a letter I sent after visiting our schools and speaking with stakeholders here in Hallandale Beach.

The partnership with United Way is an excellent step forward. The varied services should be at the school, not at some remote” Centers.” I do not want to be misinterpreted. For me it is not the what, it is the where. I said this at the first joint mayors meeting. We need to get back to basics. Services including right size classes, certified teachers, education coaches, social workers, nursing, curriculum oversight and training, discipline, and operations all must be funded properly.

Gulfstream Academy of Hallandale Beach K-8: Upgrades, Fields, Programs, and Partnership. The Colt Campus is newer and genuinely nice. I am sure there are some needs, but I have not met with Principal Bonny yet because of Principal Campbell’s recent passing. The field at the school is just an empty field. It used to have a baseball field, batting cages, a soccer field and stands. PAL used to use this field before we renovated all our parks. Our shared use agreement said we would take care of the field. The shared use agreement was not finished, and we were told we could not access it to cut. We have not used the fields there for a while.

From what I have gleaned it is uneven, there are no facilities except the PAL Concession Stand and Restrooms, and a storage room that is in bad shape and has holes in the roof. I do not know right now if there are any partnership opportunities but would leave that idea open. The Stallion Campus is an older building too and could use the same improvements as HHS.

Both campuses have a solid base. They have a great partnership onsite with United Way. I have learned that many ESOL students face difficulties. Many of the students live in poverty. Again, if these issues exist at the school, the service should be given at the school and not remotely.

Gulfstream Early Learning Center: Programs Realignment Housing. This location was an old elementary school that was shut down years ago and left empty for some time. In 2017, the city was told that it would be a training center for Broward College students and other daycare workers to get direct experience of 6 months to PreK children. This Center was mentioned at the Mayors meeting. I was surprised by the reference of this being a good partnership example.

Coincidentally, I was getting complaints about parking and congestion around the facility. I have had a chance to visit the school twice now. Again, it comes down to "it's not the what, it's the where." School is now not simply just an early education center for children. The building is now a daycare. There are no regular classes for student teachers or daycare workers. There may be one or two teachers studying but I was unable to get any numbers or data on who is being served, if any. It is used sometimes for training conferences.

Language and GED Courses are available for adults. This is also the South Area Office for SB Staff and where voluntary PreK is registered for everyone from Route I-595 and below. Hispanic Unity rents space and offers programming and organizes events. There are now laundry and clothing services at no cost.

I was impressed by the administration there. I admire them and praised the staff for being excellent and caring. We supported the original idea even though some community members opposed it. But now this is not what we expected for our single-family neighborhood. The question remains: Is this the best way to use an asset or is this a chance to create more housing through a P3? I have discussed this with our Staff and certainly welcome the chance to discuss it further.

If the school desires to establish the Main Social Service Hub what are the costs and community impacts? What part does the county play? Should the services be centralized or at each school?

Lanier-James Education Center: Program Changes Possible Redevelopment. I visited the Lanier-James Education Center when it was first built. This building was somewhat of a black eye on the community after not having a new High School built and also being a school for troubled students or those that are court ordered.

The school is new and looks nice. I noticed that it is not fully used. I do not know if that is intentional or because of the instability of some students. I am not an expert in education or juvenile justice, but this whole model from my brief observation needs to be examined.

I know your goal is to find ways to change our district to deal with low enrollment and underused facilities. I hope you realize that these are my views as a community leader. There is a lot of anxiety at the schools and clearly a lot of territorial attachment for all stakeholders.

Your efforts have great value and I encourage you to stay the course. Keep working on a plan to create stability. Even though financial and demographic changes triggered the need to rethink the district, these changes will be essential for the success of all our students.

It is never easy to make transformational changes to any organization. While it is a daunting task, I support your efforts. Moving forward please know I am available to assist, and my door is always open.

BCSB will be discussing these issues in the coming months with “everything on the table” as Dr. Licate has informed all stakeholders. I encourage our community to share their input with their ideas and suggestions as well. Please visit the BCSB Website at:

As always, please feel free to contact me with your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City better! I can be reached at: Or: Or Facebook: Mayor Joy Cooper. You can always call my Office number at: (954) 457-1318. Or Call/Text me at: (954) 632-5700. Working for you! Always have! Always will!

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