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For Norland High, promises finally kept

Wilbert “Tee” Holloway | 11/14/2013, 9 a.m.
Last November, Miami-Dade County Public Schools asked voters to invest in education by approving the issuance of a $1.2B General ...

Last November, Miami-Dade County Public Schools asked voters to invest in education by approving the issuance of a $1.2B General Obligation Bond. Voters overwhelmingly gave a collective nod of approval with 70 percent of voters supporting the measure.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and the Board understand there is a clear mandate from the community —build better schools for students because every child deserves the opportunity to learn in a facility and environment that

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Wilbert “Tee” Holloway

are conducive to learning and teaching. Over the next five years, schools across the County will receive new or upgraded infrastructure to support cutting-edge instructional technology. Bond-related projects range from electrical and technology upgrades to school renovations and school replacements. Construction at one of North Dade County’s oldest high schools will be the first major bond initiative. Miami Norland Senior High will be replaced with a modern, state-of-the-art 21st century educational facility for its more than 1,500 students. Built in 1958, time has taken its toll. Patient and reasonable in their efforts, Miami Norland’s parents, alumni, and supporters have persistently advocated for a new school and although minor school construction projects were completed in 1997 and 2006, budget cuts and spiraling economic conditions have made total replacement of the existing structure an achievable, yet distant goal. That is until November 6, 2012 when the community spoke loud and clear. With financing from the bond, funding is now available to support capital construction projects at Miami Norland and other schools with similar structural challenges.

Norland’s $35 million project will fund a number of infrastructure improvements but more significantly, bond financing means that the school’s students, teachers and community will get a new state-of-the-art education facility worthy of Viking pride. By the time the project is completed in 2016, Norland will have new everything — auditorium, media center, cafeteria, art and music suites as well as new classrooms. The school’s science wing and gymnasium, which were erected in 1997 and 2006, respectively, will get long overdue renovation and remodeling makeovers. In addition to getting a new building, the school will receive classroom technology and electrical upgrades, covered walkways and air conditioning and heating improvements. The physical transformation of Norland could not have come at a more appropriate time. The school is on an academic upswing with steady gains in student achievement and a performance grade of “A;” students are graduating at a rate of nearly 90 percent — higher than the state; state academic and athletic championships have thrust the Miami Gardens high school into the spotlight; but there hasn’t been a structural facelift of note to the existing school building since the 2006 gymnasium addition. The community is ready and deserving of a school that represents its present accomplishments and its hope for the future. A promise made is a promise kept, and the Superintendent and the Board will deliver on that promise. As a member of the School Board, I am grateful to Superintendent Carvalho and his team for making Miami Norland a priority. Our community is certainly deserving and warrants this new school.