Town continues negotiating details of new school

Centennial Middle School

As the Town of Cutler Bay enters the new year, the issue of a high school for the community remains unresolved as delicate negotiations continue with the Miami-Dade County School Board.

“There’s no doubt that we will have a high school,” said Mayor Ed MacDougall on Dec. 28. “But we just don’t have a final agreement with the school board administration. We’re not certain where the high school will be, whether it will be at Centennial or at Cutler Ridge Middle School, or if it will be shared between the two.

“We’re trying to work out some details in negotiations with them now, but because of the holidays the school board administration won’t be up and running until the first week of January.”

The Cutler Bay Town Council, during a special meeting on Sept. 20, reached a decision regarding a muchdesired high school, dropping the proposal of a charter school in favor of one that is part of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system, which will be partially funded by town revenues.

“I can tell you this, though,” MacDougall said. “We have come a long way in our quest for a high school for the people of Cutler Bay and we will continue down that path until we exercise our full resolve in securing that high school. It will be done.”

Part of the mayor’s reported concern has been the need to keep the options fluid during talks and avoid getting locked into one set of announced plans before everything has been satisfactorily resolved.

“As far as the people of Cutler Bay, we just want a safe environment that has the capacity to hold enough students that will take care of our residents and of course any other residents outside of Cutler Bay, if there’s room,” he said.

“That falls in the school administration’s court because they have to figure out, of these facilities that they have, which is the best suited for the academic programs that we want to put in the schools, and we’ll do the same thing.”

MacDougall said that it’s not an easy problem to solve because each of the two schools has issues as far as its facilities that need to be addressed, and it is a matter of which is the more economically feasible and safest for all students.

“For me, as mayor, not only do I want this high school for Cutler Bay, but I also want us to be able to have an ongoing seat at the table as far as our schools and what we can bring as a partnership,” MacDougall said.

As of deadline time, the Concerned Citizens of Cutler Bay was scheduled to conduct an open round-table discussion on “A High School in Cutler Bay,” at the Cutler Ridge United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Steve Zarzecki invited everyone to attend.

“Our Town Council continues to work for the benefit of our community by striving to ensure a quality education system here in Cutler Bay,” Zarzecki said. “There are negotiations underway with the Dade County School Board to bring a high school to our town. As of today, there are no agreements or decisions, and there are many questions and concerns.”

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