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Baptist Ministers Council voices concerns over school bond

caines | 11/1/2012, 6 a.m.

Supt. Carvalho says under his watch promises will be kept

The members of the Baptist Ministers Council meet every Wednesday at Jordan Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City. Last weeks meeting however, deviated just a bit from the normal agenda after several members, frustrated by not having an opportunity to weigh in on the $1.2B bond that is now on the ballot, pressed for a meeting with M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. And with assistance from their school board member, Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, the meeting went on. But were they satisfied by his answers? We had hoped that when the full membership of the Baptist Ministers Council met last Monday, that the Superintendent could have been there, said Rev. Jerome Starling. But even with a smaller group of our members we are here today because passing this bond could make a world of difference for our children. I give him my full support.

Remembering a painful history

Gary Johnson, a former City of Miami mayoral candidate and longtime activist, said he was less convinced that promises would be kept. The first endorsement when Mr. Carvalho was presented to the Black community came from this body of members the Baptist Ministers Council and it was announced in the Board Room of The Miami Times, he said. We all remember that. Now we need to be assured that Black schools wont be at the back of the line like we were the last time a bond was passed. Blacks overwhelmingly supported that bond we just didnt get our fair share. Not schools in the North or schools in South Dade. Carvalho remarked by emphasizing two points. From day one I have continued to say to the community a promise made is a promise kept, he said. But more than that, Ive tried to show that by example. Yes, there are inequities among our various schools and they must be addressed. But its unfair to blame someone for something that they didnt cause or do. I wasnt here when the last bond was passed. But Im here now. Its like President Obama being blamed for the economy when we know that he actually inherited that situation. I guess I feel the same way. Im well aware of the injustices suffered by the Black community in the past and put my job on the line. The work we are attempting to do is that important. I have no right to demand your trust but I ask you to give me the opportunity to change the lives of our students. Rev. Dr. Willie E. Sims, Jr., asked for an additional meeting and more conversation. You will have to excuse me but Im just not good at believing what people say without their bringing something [in writing] to back up their promises, he said. I hear that some kind of document was presented to the Board from the Superintendent but I need to see something that is addressed to us the members of the Council. Sims also asked that the Superintendent add a member from the Baptist Ministers Council to the oversight committee that will make sure funds are used in an equitable fashion and according to plan assuming that the bond is approved by voters. I will put that at the top of my list, Carvalho said, not appearing to fully say yes to the request. Sims also stated that the Council deserves greater respect. We often feel that the super Baptist churches are the ones that the Superintendent constantly goes to for advice and support, Sims added. We may not have the kind of numbers in terms of congregations, but we are an active group of clergy that can impact decisions in this community. We need to be included at the table. He made it plain and I believed him, Douglas Cook, Sr. said. Ive been on this Council for 45 years and I know there are some in this community who will quietly work against you. But Im convinced that hes going to work in our behalf. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com