FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Robert Runcie, the superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, on Tuesday defended his plan to privatize the district's construction and facilities department and lay off 35 employees in the process.
"It's time for a new structure. It's time to bring in some real, professional program management," said Runcie. "The private company has a lot of expertise we can draw upon."
The company wasn't named nor was a cost analysis provided during the school board meeting.
"Nobody has any facts and figures as to how much it's going to cost or whether it's going to save," said school board employee Gary Hines.
"I wouldn't say there hasn't been any studies. We have done some analysis and preliminary analysis on it, and we'll be bringing that to the board within the next 30 days," said Runcie.
"Shouldn't the board get that before they vote?" asked Local 10's Bob Norman.
"Well, look, it is my responsibility to run this organization and to be able to execute and get work done," he replied.
Runcie and the board are expected to soon ask the public to finance a bond issue at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
"I have never made any statements about this move being tied to any type of bond issue," Runcie told Norman.
"But you said if you don't do this move, then the public will not have faith to give the school district more dollars," answered Norman.
"Regardless of whether we go forward, whether we secure more dollars, we need to be able to execute an effective capital program," said Runcie.
Those employees set to be laid off called the move politically motivated.
"They're being blamed for things that went wrong in the past," said Broward Teachers' Union representative Virgil Cruz.
"This is not about the employees. Again, this about putting a structure in place that we have confidence that we can be effective with," said Runcie.
The school board voted 7-2 -- with Nora Rupert and Patti Good against -- to privatize the department and lay off those 35 employees.
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