Message from Miami-Dade Public Schools about Community’s Needs

Special to BHA News by Lisa Martinez, Chief Strategy Officer, Office of the Superintendent. Over the last decade and a half, the Greater Miami Downtown population has essentially doubled. Our City’s downtown growth denotes an evolution of a way of life.  Residents are seeking employment close to their homes; employees are seeking homes near their work; and, current and future urban dwellers are calling for clear plans to address quality-of-life infrastructure needs. This includes an expectation for a holistic educational strategy for the current and future needs of this area’s youth.

Across Miami-Dade County, quality educational options rest as a top priority for families. We work closely with parents and residents, municipalities, local businesses, higher education institutions and other vested stakeholders to frame a world class educational experience for all of our students.

Since early 2015, it has been our priority to balance the needs of the families living in the downtown area while envisioning solutions that will align with the rapid development of over 18,000 high rise condominium units; and office space expansion by hundreds of thousands of square feet.  Strategies range from expanding school campuses; to partnering with city, county and/or other local agencies on new sites; to advancing substantive facility and program improvements at established schools. The school district’s 5-year capital plan that will be brought before the School Board this September will demonstrate significant investments in the downtown area with more than $56 million specifically addressing the capacity needs of the Brickell community.

The education options unfolding for the Brickell area embrace the spirit of solution driven collaboration. Over the last year and a half, we have been working with Southside Elementary School parents, the City of Miami, the Downtown Development Authority and a variety of other stakeholders to truly understand the current and future needs of the neighborhood. The Southside Elementary School PTA submitted a K-8 conversion application with a goal of adding middle school grades in the Brickell area.  The desire to expand the capacity and grade configuration of the quality program at this neighborhood school was underscored by parents and residents alike. Proximity to the Urban Core, ease of walkability and accessibility to local public transportation options all resonate with the Live, Work, Play and Learn philosophy. It is our goal to jointly plan and deliver education offerings that address this way of life.

Together with our partners, an initial plan is being finalized that not only addresses a secondary school pathway in close proximity to Southside Elementary School, but also proposes the expansion of elementary school seats on the current campus. This strategy will leverage resources and land assets to address the evolving needs of the residents of the City of Miami. The details of our work will be brought to both the School Board and the City of Miami Commission in the near future.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is committed to innovative partnerships that will continue to bring rigorous and rich educational choice into the heart of our City. We look forward to working with the Brickell Homeowners Association in the continued work ahead.   •