Groundbreaking Project May Be Carvalho's Last Hurrah in Miami

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It’s exactly the kind of innovative, public-private, multi-governmental agency project which has become a hallmark of Miami-Dade County Public Schools during Alberto Carvalho’s 14-year run as superintendent. 

The county, the school district, the federal government and private developers are collaborating to build a seven-story addition to Southside Preparatory Academy, which used to be known as Southside Elementary and is now a K-8 school. The building will include apartments to allow some teachers to live where they work at affordable rates, because the cost of living is so high in the Brickell area. The groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday.

“This is a first-of-its-kind and it’s actually been a dream come true,” said Annette Degoti, the school’s principal. “To not only give our students an opportunity to flourish in a K-8 center but to also give families in the area and our teachers who drive often very far to school, a chance to live where they work.”

“Promise made, promise kept,” said Carvalho at the ceremony. 

That’s one of his favorite expressions about a project coming to fruition, and there was a sense here Friday that this might be the last time Carvalho will be able to say that in Miami-Dade County. He announced Thursday that he’s leaving to become the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

“I can honestly say it’s been a true emotional roller coaster with messages coming at me fast and furious,” Carvalho said, describing the last 24 hours. 

I asked school board Lucia Baez-Geller, who was at the ceremony, if she felt Carvalho had been a success as superintendent.

“Absolutely, I think he had a great vision, he put MDCPS on the map as a thought leader, and he absolutely did what he could for our students, to give them more opportunities,” Baez-Geller said, pointing out his emphasis on helping lift up disabled students, those who are English-language learners, and kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Carvalho has advice for his successor. 

“Be forceful about putting kids front and center and the main thing every single day, and have the courage to continue to fight political influences that sometimes can undermine educational opportunity and the safety and well-being of children, do not compromise on that, regardless of the threat that may come at you,” Carvalho said. 

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