Auburndale Elementary School mom Barbie Rudoli had her eyes peeled for one election result Tuesday night.
“As I was watching the news, all I was looking for (was) 222,” she said, referring to a bond referendum for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. “Was it approved? Was it approved? Yes! It was approved. Changes are coming.”
They’ll be coming in the next five to seven years. With the passage of initiative 222, the Miami-Dade school board plans to use $1.2 billion to bring every county school up to code, and into the 21st century with new technology.
Sixty-nine percent of voters supported the measure and 31 percent voted against it, according to unofficial results from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department.
The bond will cost the average homeowner about $5 per $100,000 of taxable property in its first year, according to the school district.
Auburndale mom Ivette Molina says the school is in dire need.
“My sister, my nephew, my nephew's now 16, and when he was little, he came to this school,” she said.
The school is 64 years old, and its age is showing. Its walls bubble up after years of soaking rains. Its roof is so leaky that its white ceiling tiles are turning tan, and its bathroom sinks so old that they're falling off the walls.
And students are asking questions, Rudoli said.
“Why does my school have to look like this?” she recounted. “So, it's heartbreaking when you hear those comments from especially the older kids who notice these details.”
School board member Raquel Regelado helped rally support for the measure, pointing out that Miami-Dade’s crumbling schools have been an open secret for far too long.
“Auburndale is one of them, Coconut Grove Elementary is another school where I know parents that don’t allow their children to go to the bathroom, because the bathrooms are so nasty,” Regelado said. “We have to be honest about that.”
About half of the county's schools are 40 years old, and more than one-third are at least 50.