Broward School Board members cut the district's capital budget by more than half Tuesday night, meaning some schools are stuck with outdated libraries and some communities that need new schools will not have them for a few more years.
But, they also provided relief to some communities by moving money around in order to keep decades-old promises of swimming pools, libraries, cafeterias and auditoriums.
Parent Leslie Carhart thanked the board for finding a way to build a nine-lane swimming pool at Fort Lauderdale High School, a project more than 15 years in the making, without taking money from other schools. The pool is now possible because the district was able to get lower interest rates on other projects.
"I am not comfortable with having to benefit my school community at the expense of another," said Carhart, whose son graduated from Fort Lauderdale High in the spring. "Thank you."
Deciding which construction projects to keep and which to lose or postpone was not easy. Board members considered such things as health and safety issues, dilapidated buildings and obsolete technology that hinder learning.
That's why Davie Elementary School still gets bathroom renovations and Dania Elementary gets new floors and a sprinkler system upgrade, but Apollo Middle School in Hollywood won't get a new boys' locker room and Attucks Middle, also in Hollywood, can't look forward to an upgraded intercom system.
Superintendent James Notter said the district plans to file away all the cut projects so if and when the economy rebounds, "we can honor our commitment to our community, and most importantly to our children."
The $1.3 billion capital budget not only pays for construction projects, but also things like buses and computers.
The School Board annually approves a wish list of projects to be completed over the next five years. Last year's approved budget was approximately $3 billion.
But this year, the district eliminated more than $660 million in already-approved construction and shelved an additional $1.5 billion in planned projects. So, older school buses will thunder down county streets longer and classroom technology won't be upgraded as quickly.
One concession made during Tuesday's final capital budget vote, however, was to give Boyd Anderson High School a $1.5 million library renovation. The original project, a brand-new $7.87 million building, was one of the previously budgeted but now eliminated projects.
"We're fighting and asking, don't stop the momentum," Thomas E. Douglas, president of Boyd Anderson High's Parent Teacher Student Association, said before Tuesday's meeting.
Akilah Johnson can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4527.