Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, vice chair of the Miami- Dade District School Board for the past three years, visited the Oct. 13 meeting of the Cutler Bay Business Association (CBBA) to bring its members up to date on the new Cutler Bay high school.
He also mentioned the progress the board had made since its troubled past.
“Three years ago we had a lot of problems,” Dr. Feldman said. “We had a $6 billion budget and only $3 billion coming from taxes. We had a board and a superintendent seat that were pretty much in competition with The Days of Our Lives. We had programs that were not part of schools; they were part of helping vendors. Now, three years later, we’re in better shape.”
Dr. Feldman credited current school district superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho for his role in improving the system.
Centennial Middle School will become the new high school, grades 9-12, with three advanced academies — the iPrep, Environmental Science and Technology, and a baccalaureate academy called the Cambridge Program, in addition to its normal curriculum.
The changes will not be just superficial ones.
“We are doing massive renovations so that we can accommodate the iPrep stateof- the-art learning,” Dr. Feldman said. “That is a special type of visual as well as academic equipment. We will be doing that in conjunction with the mayor. It is visually different — it is a college campus in a room. It’s something that our kids grew up with, so they should be using that as their classroom, not forcing them to sit in chairs the way we did because that’s what we knew. We now know a different type of learning and teaching. We just have to move faster.”
Dr. Feldman, who brought his chief of staff Jackeline Fals and community involvement specialist Erz Munsie with him, said they would be working with the community. He also said that Centennial could be renamed Cutler Bay High School, if residents want that. He said the school board has a process by which the town could ask for that change. The new school will open its doors in the fall of 2012.
“It’s good,” Dr. Feldman said. “I’m very proud of the mayor and the council, and what they’ve done for this particular school. It makes it easy, and makes it so that everyone comes out a winner, especially the kids.”
For his part, Mayor Ed MacDougall had high praise for Dr. Feldman and the improved school board.
“We’ve found as the council that working with the Miami-Dade County school system, particularly Dr. Feldman, that they have been extremely helpful and cooperative,” Mayor MacDougall said. “I’m looking forward to a partnership which is blossoming, which will help the school system and the residents of Cutler Bay. It’s been an absolute joy to work with the school system. Their accommodating us has been over the top.”