Comms Staff
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Monitoring and Oversight of General Obligation Bonds to Improve Broward County Schools: SMART Program Quarterly Report Review for the Quarter Ended September 30, 2021

On November 26, 2021, Florida TaxWatch received the Bond Oversight Committee Quarterly Report for the Quarter Ended September 30, 2021 (“Quarterly Report”). This report provides updated information on the implementation of the District’s SMART Program and the use of general obligation bond funds to purchase and install technology upgrades, purchase music, and art equipment, improve school safety, upgrade athletic facilities, and renovate educational facilities.

To encourage greater accountability, transparency, public support, and confidence in the use of the general obligation bond funds, and to hold the District accountable for spending decisions, Florida TaxWatch has reviewed the District’s Quarterly Report against the most recent SMART Program schedule and budget and is pleased to present the following report and recommendations.

Completed Projects: 

Additional Security and School Safety Projects - 6 completed

Single Point of Entry Security Projects - Completed at all 238 schools

Music Equipment - Completed at all 195 identified schools.

Art Equipment - Completed at all 136 identified schools.

Theater Equipment - Completed at all 40 identified schools.

Track Projects: Completed at all identified schools.

Weight Rooms - Completed at all 30 identified schools.

Technology - Completed at all 230 identified schools.

Monitoring:

Construction schedule resets.

Primary Renovation Projects delays (although there is some progress).

Schedule-related issues

Change orders

Building department delays

Roof collapse at James S. Rickards Middle School Media Center

Vendor Accountability

School Choice enhancement program

Budget

Expenditures

Financial risk

Reserve funding

Hard costs vs. soft costs

Supplier diversity and outreach

Communications

Recommendations:

  • Florida TaxWatch recommends that, in the event the requested list of schools without a music program has not yet been provided to Committee members, the District provide the requested information at the December 13, 2021, Committee meeting.
  • Florida TaxWatch recommends that the District explain the need to increase the Music, Arts & Theater budget by $300,000 at the December 13, 2021, Committee meeting.
  • Florida TaxWatch recommends the District reconcile the apparent discrepancies between the number of delayed projects identified on page 50 of the District Report and the number of projects flagged for schedule delays on the School Spotlights.
  • Florida TaxWatch reiterates its previous recommendation that the SBBC delegate authority to approve change orders less than $25,000 to the Superintendent or other senior official.
  • Florida TaxWatch recommends the District brief the Committee at its December 13, 2021, meeting on efforts to recover change order funds that are the result of consultant omissions and consultant errors.
  • Florida TaxWatch recommends the District respond to the Grand Jury recommendation that legislation be enacted to ban district-run building, permitting, and inspection departments, and to mandate that county and municipal agencies be the only issuers of both temporary and permanent Certificates of Occupancy for schools within their geographical boundaries.
  • Florida TaxWatch recommends the District brief the Committee at its December 13, 2021, meeting on steps taken by the SBBC/District to streamline and shorten the project process and to reduce the number of Building Department reviews from nine to ten (currently) to five or fewer.
  • Florida TaxWatch recommends the District brief the Committee at its December 13, 2021, meeting on the results of its investigation into the cause of the partial roof collapse at James S. Rickards Middle School and the status of the roofs at the other four schools with similar designs.
  • Florida TaxWatch reiterates its previous recommendation that the District update the “Big 3 Schools Update” section of the Report and the School Spotlight for Stranahan High School to reflect the status of Phase 2 (cafeteria) of the Primary Renovations.
  • Florida TaxWatch recommends the District brief the Committee at its December 13, 2021, meeting of its efforts to recoup any SMART Program funds that have been misspent in the procurement of technology upgrades.
  • Florida TaxWatch reiterates its previous recommendations that the District include SMART Program budget allocations for years 9 (FY 2022-23) through 12 (FY 2025-26). If no allocations are available, the District should lay out its plan (and timetable) for developing the allocations for years 9 through 12 of the SMART Program at the December 13, 2021, Committee meeting.
  • Florida TaxWatch reiterates its previous recommendation that the District calculate the lifespan of remaining unexpended SMART Program funds and evaluate the possibility that the District may exhaust the remaining unspent SMART Program funds before the planned facilities construction projects have been completed.
  • Florida TaxWatch reiterates its previous recommendation that, if it appears that the District may exhaust the remaining unspent SMART Program funds before the planned facilities construction projects have been completed, District staff should be prepared to present to the Committee at its December 13, 2021, meeting the plan to make up the shortfall.
  • Florida TaxWatch recommends that, in the event copies of the District’s response to public comments made at the September 27, 2021, Committee meeting have not been distributed to Committee members, the District should provide the requested information at the December 13, 2021, Committee meeting.

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