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.