New charter middle school for Health Sciences gets OK

Larkin High School

Students from Larkin High

The Application Review Committee (ARC) of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools voted to approve the Larkin Middle School for the Health Sciences on Friday, Mar. 4.

The ARC now will make a recommendation of approval of the charter school application to the superintendent of schools. The new middle school (grades 6-8) is expected to open in August 2017 and will be tuition-free for Miami-Dade County residents. First year enrollment is expected to be up to 330 students with a maximum enrollment of up to 792 students.

The school will be built at the hospital’s Health Sciences Campus, a 48-acre campus located in Naranja Lakes, immediately accessible from S. Dixie Highway (US1) and 280th Street. It will cover 55,000 square feet and will be equipped with an estimated 30 classrooms, science labs, art room, music room, media center and a cafeteria/auditorium.

As of 2012, 62 percent of Miami-Dade County Public School students were of Hispanic origin and 25 percent were black. Yet, these two minorities are woefully underrepresented in health careers. For example, fewer than 18 percent of the practicing physicians in Florida represent these two minority groups.

Dr. Jack J Michel, Larkin’s chair and president of the board, stated: “The solution is to mentor and better prepare students in middle school and high school. The proposed Charter Larkin Middle School for the Health Sciences would to do just that.

“Let’s stop importing doctors from foreign schools and turn our homegrown talent into the next generation of healthcare professionals to serve our healthcare needs. The best way to turn young people from violence and despair is to offer them the American Dream,” Dr. Michel added. “It is time to think outside the box and take a chance on new ideas that can change the status quo and provide an example to other areas of the nation whose minority population face a never-ending cycle of lack of opportunity and despair”.

The proposed Larkin Health Sciences Campus in Naranja will boost the local economy by establishing a College of Pharmacy, a College of Medicine, a College of Dentistry and a School of Nursing, all anchored by the Larkin Charter Middle School for the Health Sciences.

The hospital recently announced that its Larkin College of Pharmacy is accepting applications for its inaugural class and is scheduled to start in August 2016 in North Miami and will eventually relocate to Naranja. It will offer the traditional four-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm D) in three years.

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