Pembroke Pines Charter Schools may privatize

City Commission to vote Wednesday to give Charter Schools USA no-bid contract to take over system

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - The Pembroke Pines City Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday to give Charter Schools USA a no-bid contract to take over the financially struggling system.

Gabriela Eyrich, 16, said she loves the Pembroke Pines Charter Schools system and doesn't want to see a private firm take it over.

"I don't want to be treated as a business," Gabriela said. "I want to be treated as a student and get the quality of education I had before."

Officials with Pembroke Pines Charter Schools said it's running a $2 million deficit and needs to privatize.

"It seems to be a lot of money that we don't know where it goes," said Gabriela's mother, Teresa Eyrich. "You wonder where did it go, where is it going, why we have a deficit."

Gabriela's mother said she wants those answers at Wednesday's meeting.

City officials said that if the system's 325 teachers are willing to take a pay cut, the system might still be saved.

Marta Cabeza, an English teacher, said she hopes the Broward Teachers Union and the city can find a solution that doesn't include privatization.

"We don't want to lose our charter system," Cabeza said. "We don't want to close our doors or be privatized in any way, and if that means taking a pay cut, then that means taking a pay cut."

City Manager Charlie Dodge didn't return calls Monday, but Commissioner Jay Schwartz said he's hopeful a deal can be reached to save the school system before Wednesday's vote at city hall.

Charter Schools USA didn't return calls for comment Monday.

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