Coral Springs calls for a delay of MSD rezoning to address community impacts
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) rezoning process has been a source of heated debate between Parkland and Coral Springs, culminating in a recent meeting between Parkland Mayor Rich Walker and the Coral Springs city commission. The school board’s preliminary approval of the plan to reassign 351 MSD students to Coral Glades High School in order to address overcrowding has come under criticism for disproportionately affecting Black and Latino students residing in Coral Springs.
Mayor Walker asserts that the issue of rezoning has been ongoing since 2016 when the school board initially voted against rezoning plans. He explains that MSD’s overcrowding has worsened over time, while some schools in Coral Springs have experienced under-enrollment. Mayor Walker contends that MSD’s over-enrollment has led to a funding surplus of nearly $5 million, while other schools like Coral Glades and J.P. Taravella High School have received fewer resources from the county. He emphasizes that the divisions resulting from the rezoning process are not acceptable and urges collaboration between the cities to resolve the issue.
Commissioner Joy Carter echoes concerns about the school board’s decision-making process, noting that it appears to be favoring affluent communities over less affluent ones. She also emphasizes that changing the feeder patterns for middle-school students immediately after COVID could have negative impacts on their mental health and their families.
Vice Mayor Shawn Cerra, however, disagrees with Mayor Walker’s assessment of MSD’s funding, pointing out that much of the additional funds came in response to the 2018 tragedy. He argues that MSD is, in fact, the safest of all 241 schools in Broward County, and that the argument that MSD is unsafe due to over-enrollment is unfounded. He suggests delaying the MSD rezoning for one year to allow Coral Glades and other schools to prepare for the additional students. He also emphasizes the importance of analyzing the rezoning process regionally and considering its demographic impacts. However, he takes issue with Mayor Walker discussing the matter with the school board, stating that it is a Coral Springs issue and not a Parkland one.
Commissioner Joshua Simmons criticizes Mayor Walker for advocating for rezoning without discussing it with Coral Springs residents. Simmons argues that this undermines trust in the city commission’s abilities and expresses disgust with the entire process. He also criticizes the school board for hastily moving forward with the MSD rezoning and School Board Chair Lori Alhadeff for allegedly ignoring communication attempts.
Mayor Scott Brook acknowledges the mistakes made in the MSD rezoning process and emphasizes the need for collaboration between the cities and the school board. He acknowledges that a rift has formed but asserts that it was unintentional. All five elected officials in Coral Springs support delaying the MSD rezoning for one year. The first hearing for the MSD rezoning is scheduled for March 29 at the Coral Springs High School auditorium, followed by a second hearing on April 12 at J.P. Taravella High School.
In conclusion, the debate over the MSD rezoning process is complex and multi-faceted. The concerns of both Parkland and Coral Springs officials must be taken into account, and the school board’s decision-making process must be carefully scrutinized. Collaboration between the cities and the school board is essential to find a solution that benefits all students and communities involved.