In April, Child magazine gave Miami-Dade County Public School (M-DCPS) officials
a golden moment - public declaration of the district's effectiveness.
Editors at the consumer magazine named Miami the fourth best city to raise
a family and cited the public school district as a main reason for the city's
family-friendly atmosphere. Noted were the district's magnet-school program,
with 78 fields of study, including the newly added mechanical engineering, commercial
art, and biomedicine; greatly increased standardized test scores; and, most
notably, the district's expanded after-school programs for kids, which Child
editors attribute to the city's 40-percent reduction in crime since 1993.
At the heart of the M-DCPS system is 32 million square feet of educational
facilities located at 357 board-owned sites. The district operates a vast Facilities
Planning and Operations department that oversees construction, renovation, and
ongoing maintenance of these buildings. The task is monumental: In a typical
year, the Maintenance and Operations office's team of 1,400 employees plans,
schedules, and completes more than 85,000 work orders.
The district has spent $4 billion for capital purposes since 1988. In 1988,
a $980 million bond issue paved the way for the district's largest facilities
improvement initiative to-date. The work still continues.
Since 1988, funds from this massive referendum and other levies have planned,
designed, and built 67 new schools; 20 primary learning centers; 10 major building
conversions; 15 major additions at existing schools; and lesser additions and
renovations at 187 school sites. Sixty-two more facilities are under construction
or in the planning stage.