By Bryan Boggiano
Parkland Mayor Rich Walker recently met with the Coral Springs city commission to discuss the contentious Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) rezoning process, which has caused divisions between the two cities.
The school board’s preliminary approval of a plan to reassign 351 students from MSD to Coral Glades High School to address overcrowding has faced criticism for disproportionately impacting Black and Latino students living in Coral Springs.
Walker stated that the rezoning issue has persisted since 2016, when the school board voted against rezoning plans. Over time, MSD’s overcrowding worsened, while some Coral Springs schools experienced under-enrollment.
He claimed MSD’s over-enrollment led to a funding surplus of nearly $5 million, while schools like Coral Glades and J.P. Taravella High School received fewer resources from the county.
“These are issues that the school board did not address many, many years ago,” Walker said, adding that the divisions between the cities resulting from the rezoning process are wrong. “I can feel the tension, I can feel the animosity, and that’s not something I’m okay with.”
Commissioner Joy Carter expressed concerns about the school board cherry-picking schools to rezone, turning the issue into a matter of affluent versus less affluent communities. She also argued that changing middle-school feeder patterns immediately after COVID could be harmful to students and families struggling with mental health.
Vice Mayor Shawn Cerra disagreed with Walker’s assessment of MSD’s funding, stating much of the additional funds came in response to the 2018 massacre. He said the argument that MSD is unsafe due to over-enrollment is wrong: “Out of the 241 schools in Broward County, Marjory Stoneman Douglas is the safest.”
Cerra endorsed delaying the MSD rezoning by one year, allowing Coral Glades and other schools to prepare for additional students. He emphasized the need for the school board to analyze the rezoning process regionally and consider its demographic impacts. However, he took issue with Walker discussing the matter with the school board, as it pertains to Coral Springs rather than Parkland.
Commissioner Joshua Simmons criticized Walker for advocating for rezoning without discussing it with Coral Springs. Simmons said this undermined Coral Springs residents’ trust in the city commission’s abilities: “The time for us to be collaborative was last year…I am disgusted by this entire process.”
Simmons also criticized 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 acknowledged mistakes made in the MSD rezoning process and stressed the need for collaboration between the cities and the school board. He admitted a rift had formed but maintained that it was unintentional.
All five Coral Springs elected officials expressed support for delaying the MSD rezoning by one year. The first hearing for the MSD rezoning will be held on March 29 at the Coral Springs High School auditorium, followed by a second hearing on April 12 at J.P. Taravella High School.
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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