By Dr. Steve Gallon III, MDCPS School Board Vice Chair | August 18, 2022
At the School Board Meeting of August 15, 2022, School Board Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III proffered an item regarding School Board owned property and the current affordable housing crisis facing Miami-Dade County. Many in the public have suggested that Miami-Dade County Public Schools is one of the largest landowners in Miami-Dade County, and as such, has become increasingly viewed and sought after as a strategic partner by those endeavoring to address housing affordability, including County government, local municipalities, and private developers.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools stands at the epicenter of the community’s stability, viability, and long-term success. In this posture, it must always remain fully cognizant and engaged in matters that will ultimately impact the education of students—the fulcrum of its mission as the nation’s 4th largest school district. The School Board has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to addressing, supporting, and partnering on issues and matters that not only impact its students, but that have an impact on the community at large. Issues that impact the safety, security, and stability of parents and families have always been of concern to the District and have provided both opportunities and obligations to lead—to serve.
One of the most vexing issues facing Miami-Dade County, and quite frankly communities through the state and nation is the issue of affordable housing. Although the primary mission of M-DCPS, under the leadership of the School Board is the education of students, the emergence of recent issues, partnerships, proposals, and even public announcements demand that the School Board reviews both its policies and position, as well as its constitutional, legal, and statutory provisions regarding district owned property, and potential proposals for partnerships or sale regarding the same. In doing so, the School Board must always be cognizant that School Board owned property was procured for the sole purpose of supporting the education of the community’s children, and that any deviation in such use must be done in a prudent, public, procedural, and policy-driven manner.
School Board owned property by law is for “use in the service of K-12 education.” Thus, all School Board owned property is designated for educational uses. School officials are required to build and provide school facilities in accordance with the applicable building codes, and as such, build schools with adequate playgrounds and open fields so that students can engage in recreational and other academic and instructional activities.
Given the problems that have occurred in affordable housing, community buildings, park spaces, and other complex projects that contemplate public-private partnerships and ventures, it is important that the School Board reviews present policies and reaffirm and where needed, establish appropriate guidelines and parameters that recognize its primary core mission to educate children. In doing so, the School Board must always recognize that projects that the Board engages must safeguard the taxpayers’ assets in a manner that is in full compliance with the law and the adoption and implementation of best practices.
“Clearly, the housing affordability crisis in Miami-Dade County may not provide the School Board the luxury of remaining on the sidelines,” Dr. Gallon stated. “However, if and when the School Board does decide to further engage with others as a strategic partner in helping to solve the affordable housing crisis in our community, I believe we must first do so within the parameters and provisions of our core mission, and in a manner that protects and promotes the public and Board’s interest.”
Read full item here: h9rev2.pdf (dadeschools.net)