In the interest of efficiency and cost savings, Miami- Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho re-organized the regions and appointed Dr. Alexis Martinez as superintendent of the South Region. The region covers 99 schools, 430 square miles and more than 100,000 students.
“In numbers alone, it would be the 27th largest school district in the United States,” Dr. Martinez says. “We are the biggest region ever in the history of Miami-Dade county schools.”
Previously, he was the region superintendent with South Central area and earlier he served as a regional director in the south, so he’s knowledgeable about the needs of the school in the area.
Because of continued funding issues with the state, Martinez says the school system has learned how to do a lot more with fewer resources.
“He (Carvalho) really does believe a central office and central administration should be downsized to give students and teachers the maximum funds and resources available,” Martinez says. “This superintendent has really homed in on the fact that we have extremely capable individuals that are multi-talented and can wear a lot of hats.”
Martinez says even with the cutbacks, Miami-Dade Schools is the answer for parents seeking a quality education for their children.
“We built a lot of schools in the south,” he says. “They are thriving, but we have a lot of competitors. My goal is to offer better solutions to parents in the selection of schools, to offer more programs.” Basically the school system wants to create a one-stop shopping system for parents. Instead of having to worry where a child is going next, parents will be able to make that choice before pre-school. For example, if a child starts at a Cambridge school such as Green Glades Elementary, they will be given information that the Cambridge program feeds to W. R. Thomas Middle School, and then to G. Holmes Braddock, a Cambridge high school.
“We want to create a map for children from their entry point all the way to their destination high school,” Martinez says.
Even with consolidation, parents will find a region office in their area. Martinez says offices are located in the Dadeland area, another at Robert Morgan and one in the Homestead/Florida City area.
“That way parents aren’t inconvenienced by having to drive to Robert Morgan,” he says. “This is tied to customer courtesy. Parents are our customers and children are a priceless commodity.”
Martinez hopes to win back some of the students who have moved to charter schools, which studies have shown aren’t always a better choice. “I’m a firm believer that no one can do it better than Miami-Dade County Schools,” he says.
That includes the new I-Prep programs. “I have five I-Prep schools. It’s not for every child. It’s open classrooms, very rich in technology. It’s a lot of virtual work. There are nice lounge chairs and coffee tables, and they use electronic devices, all tied to instruction.”
Martinez says the students in these classes need to be self-directed.
“It really is looking deep into the future of education,” he says. “You see more online courses.
I was one that thought online courses were going to be just for a few, but students like them. It’s a new type of student.”
Parents will be able to attend informational expos so they can learn about the multitude of choices available to their children.