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To: Members of the Board and Superintendent.
From: Demetrio Perez, Jr.
Subject: Dade Educational Challenge '96

Date: November 20, 1996

As I announced last night, I am proposing a series of measures that I consider vital for the recovery of our schools and I seek your support in implementing them.

I would like to share my proposals with all of you and I welcome your suggestions. Following is a list of the main points of my platform:


1) To instruct the Superintendent’s office to produce a report, in no more than thirty, that identifies the lack of security, irregularities and risks that exist in the different schools in our system and provide specific recommendations and strategies to eliminate drugs. I propose that these recommendations be implemented and strategies to eliminate drugs, weapons, vandalism and other criminal activities from our schools. I propose that these recommendations be implemented through an emergency action plan conducted by a taskforce appointed by the Superintendent’s office with a representative from each of the nine districts. Each taskforce member will be a liaison with his or her respective School Board member.

The task of evaluation each school individually should contemplate the fundamental aspects of security, administration, and technical planning, including school overcrowding.

With respect to security I ask for an evaluation of the DCPS Police Department. This evaluation should include recommendation for its restructuring, privatization, or for the contracting of these services to municipal police department, instead of continuing the status quo. It is understood that the budget of this department exceeds $33 million.


2) Conduct an external audit, in accordance with current regulations, that would provide the Board in a period no greater than ninety days with a detailed report on the financial health of the system. Included in this audit should be a review of the $980 million bond issue for school construction, which as of this date has not been completed.

Upon receiving the voter’s mandate, I believe it necessary that the new Board and our citizens know the true economic condition of the school system.

It is suggested to the Superintendent’s office that specific recommendations be obtained regarding the consolidation of departments and services. A reduction in unnecessary expenses, a plan for early retirement and the feasibility of centralizing purchasing, removing this responsibility from the individual schools, in order to take advantage of bulk discount for massive quantities.

I suggest that the School Board obtain proposals from accounting firms interested in conducting this audit.

3) Request a report from the Superintendent’s office that explain the current policy on purchases made by the system’s individual schools and the ability of the Superintendent to make purchases without first consulting the Board, with the only limitation being that the purchase not exceed $10,000. The report should also make recommendations on the viability of instituting a hiring freeze of one year to fill nonessential, vacant posts except in emergencies where the request will be brought before the Board.

4) Satellite offices in the respective districts (based on the example of the Dade County Commission), so that members may be accessible to their constituents. We request a recommendation from the Superintendent’s office to that respect.

5) Possible implementation of a "committee system”, similar to that of Metro-Dade government, to review the different departments of the schools system. We request a recommendation.

6) Discussion of the procedures for the designation of the Superintendent, the School Board Attorney, should it be necessary and any other appointment on which the Board has to make.

7) The possibility of revising the current structure of the DCPS system (which is currently composed of six regions) to nine regions, whose boundaries would coincide with those of each district.

8) Assign a number to each school, as a manner of identification, while maintaining the current historically approved names as a symbolic subtitle.

9) Review of all existing committees of the School Board, including their functions, responsibilities, costs and benefits.

10) Creation of the position of Inspector General, as the main internal investigator, appointed by the Board to serve at the will of the Board on a temporary basis until a reduction in the alarming amount of complaints and irregularities in the system is achieved.

11) The creation of "Inspiration 2,000” prize to be awarded at the end of each period to the administrator, employee, teacher, family, or student who stands out the most and meets the criteria established for the award. Civic groups, the business community, and other organizations would be sought to giver support and prestige to his honor.


12) The implementation of a mandatory school uniforms, beginning in September 1997 that will be required for attendance from Kindergarten up to 12 Grade. A common dress code covering pants or skirts, skirts or blouses, shoes, and socks that would bring uniformity to the system. At the same time, since all schools would have the same uniform, unnecessary expenses will be avoided when students transfer from one school to another.

Each student will use a monogram with the logo of the DCPS, the school number and their student number as a measure of security, discipline, equality, and identification.

Uniforms are to be obtainable at any store, discouraging the "monopolization” of the school uniform business and preventing school from establishing preferences with uniform suppliers.

It should be clarified that schools be assigned a number for the purpose of administrative identification and they would maintain their present names as subtitle.


13) The selection of textbooks and instructional materials will be made by the Board in order to adopt a uniform curriculum for all schools and centralize the process of acquisition and revision, in accordance with any federal, state or local regulations. This would also produce great savings because schools can share their allotment of books, this would be an improvement of the current situation, where some schools don’t have enough books to give to their students. This would also ease the process of transition for students who transfer within the district as they would be following the same curriculum. All of the system’s schools would then be on an equal plane, ensuring that everyone will receive the best that the system has to offer.

It is also suggested that all major operational decisions should become centralized to save time and money. Teachers would become free from the bureaucratic mess so that they can better serve their sacred mission.

14) Teachers should be given more authority in the exercise of their duties. Less paperwork and more time to teach.

15) Mandatory bussing measures, which go against the wishes of many families, should be stopped. This past Friday, November 15th, the Boston school district established the most recent precedent in this direction.

16) Elementary school classrooms should be limited to no more than 25 students per teacher. This number applies to the physical amount of students in each classroom, not a distorted statistical figure.

17) Moral education should be included as part of the curriculum and should include education on morality, values, citizenship training, and character.

18) Oficialize the existing moment of silence, under the disciplinary supervision of the teacher, as an instant of intimate spiritual reflection.

19) Identify resources available within the community to resolve the problem of school overcrowding. This should include the possibility of using vacant halls or other venues not in use during school hours for classrooms. The options of other alternatives such as double sessions and year-round school should also be evaluated.

20) Solicit the opinion of the School Board Attorney and conduct a formal research into the possibility of proposing a referendum calling for the election of a DCPS Executive Chief who answers directly to the citizens of Dade County, in much the same way as is done in other districts around our state.

21) The creation of standards for the hiring of new teachers by means of a standardized contest through which all new applicants for the position —or those already in the system interested in improving their position— will have to pass. This would eliminate the forces of "influence” or "patronage”. The credibility of the process will be improved through a procedure of anonymous grading of said exams. The successful examines will be given numerical priority in accordance with the results of the tests, evaluations, professional credentials, and experience and the results will then be released to the public.

22) A review of the transportation system in order to provide better and more efficient service with greater security as well as to reduce costs. It is necessary to safeguard our students, specifically those in elementary school. Measures can be taken to avoid the type of tragedy that occurred in the case of Jimmy Ryce, who was last seen existing a Dade County Public Schools bus.

23) An emergent action plan to ensure all elementary level students in the system learn the three r’s (reading, writing, arithmetic). We need educational excellence, but at lower costs.

24) A review of the school construction program. Explore the possibility of building smaller, more secure schools, with a single entrance, and fences to prevent unauthorized entry. We must provide our schools with a similar level of security as the one in effect at the School Board building.

25) Call for the "XXI Century Educational Reform Submit” to reaffirm support, interest, and participation from families, institutions, and authorities from the public and private sectors in the execution of an educational reform that could become a national model.