Hoping to change regulations and speed up the process for new private construction projects in Key Biscayne, a representative tied to a Montessori school project recently conveyed her client’s wishes to the Commission of Review of the Charter, which will discuss the issue in more detail at its March meeting. 10 meeting.
Shakeyla Floresof the firm Bercow Radell Fernandez Larkin + Tapanes in Miami, which specializes in zoning, land use and environmental law, addressed the five-member panel at the February meeting representing Fortis I, LLC, the proposed developer of the center d K-12 Private Learning. But she did not answer a question this week about who could financially support such a venture.
“Section 4.15 of Article IV has presented a significant difficulty for past, present and future text changes to the zoning code and land use planning regulations,” she said, reading a letter sent to the five-member City Review Board. Charter.
“Specifically, Section 4.15 requires that any amendment that would create a new zoning district or permit currently unlicensed use (in this case, schools not attached to church-related zones or government use , for example) is approved by a majority vote of voters (through a lengthy referendum process).
The timeline for a proposed new school seems like a coincidence after recent grumbling from parents about issues like classroom sizes, teacher certifications and deteriorating equipment at the Key Biscayne K-8 Center. Those concerns were all called “inaccurate” by Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board member Mari Tere Rojas in a letter to the Islander News.
Flores cited an example of daycare facilities permitted in the C-1 low-intensity commercial district, “but does not permit the use of a private school that is not related to a religious body.”
Saying that a referendum could take several months, the law firm recommends that Section 4.15 be amended to remove referendum requirements for changes to the zoning code and land use bylaws, “at least applied to the ‘introduction of new uses’, particularly in a case involving ‘obvious potential benefits to residents’.
The Charter Review Commission met for the first time in 10 years.
“I don’t think we ever anticipated the addition of a private school or a charter school,” Jennifer Stearns said of Buttrick, regarding the village’s 30-year-old charter origins. “…I feel like all the provisions of our Charter were made where the government was trying to protect (the appearance and needs of the community).”
She was concerned, however, if a special election was held on such a specific issue, the number of residents who would vote or even the fairness of this election.
“Who is motivated to vote in an election with low turnout? … I don’t think that’s representative of everyone (on) the key,” she said.
Commission Chair Allison McCormick asked Village Attorney Chad Friedman to bring this issue back with “the appropriate (planning and zoning) staff” for further consideration at the March 10 meeting, which starts at 6:00 p.m.
Lots of options
Montessori is an education method based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play, often in an open-type environment, with age-appropriate and self-motivating curricula that can focus on a student’s specific target area.
There are 172 private Montessori schools in Florida – more than 85 using this method of teaching alone in Miami-Dade County among its 482 private schools, including St. Christopher’s By-the-Sea Montessori Episcopal Church School on Key Biscayne.
The total number of children under the age of 18 in Key Biscayne is 3,600 (among the 14,809 residents).
Could another school be integrated into the Village?
“I imagine there are very few (physical) spots,” said Oscar Sardiñas, founder and president of the nonprofit. Key Biscayne Foundation for Children and EducationInc., which opened in February 2020. “I didn’t even know a Montessori group was considering coming here…I’m here to support the schools we have now.”
The Sardiñas Foundation does not compete with schools in the area. In fact, he says, the after-school enrichment program is a way to add skill levels and specific interests — like sports, chess, art, or piano, to name a few. only a few – in a fun and relaxing environment, quite similar to other premises. outlets such as Motivate minds and The spirits of tomorrow.
Normally, the Foundation would physically be part of the K-8 Center after school, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced “classrooms” to be outdoors on the Village Green from 2-4 p.m., an hour from less than usual, because youth football practice starts at 4.
Sardiñas, who has two children aged 9 and 5 in the public school system, is working on a new agreement to extend the Foundation’s private services to other schools in the area. This semester, between 150 and 225 registered students benefit from the Fundamentals courses given by a dozen teachers.
The Foundation donated 100% of its profits to local schools, such as $5,000 to $6,000 in the first year, which was split between KB Community Church School, KB Presbyterian School, and KBCS K-8 to purchase outdoor equipment, and a $15,000 donation in December to the K-8 Center to replace outdoor playground equipment.
“The program has been fantastic,” said Sardiñas, 48, a Key Biscayne resident and vice president of sales and marketing at D&B Tile Distributors, who plans to run for village council for a second time in November. “When we get back to school…we want to make K-8 a great place (for our teachers, our students, and the Foundation).”
the Key Biscayne K-8 Center was built in 1952 and serves some 1,300 students. The MAST Academy, off the Rickenbacker causeway, was established in 1990.
According to Niche“the leader in connecting colleges and schools with students and families,” the student-teacher ratio at K-8 Center is 17-1, and according to state test scores, 82% of students are at least proficient in mathematics and 78% in reading and a a note.
Among the top Niche schools, K-8 Center ranks 145th out of 1,102 public colleges in Florida and 284th out of 2,198 top public elementary schools in the state (33rd out of 274 elementary schools in Miami-Dade County).
Niche also ranks K-8 teachers 24th among 173 public colleges in Miami-Dade and 35th among the top 269 public elementary schools in the county.
“When you think about population, there are so many options, especially for primary school,” Sardiñas said, noting that homeschooling has been on the decline since the pandemic began.
“Maybe there’s room for an early learning (K-3 or 4) school on the Key, but there are so many options outside in the private schools. Enrollment has gone down over the past two years, kids are finding other schools, or maybe this school (specifically) isn’t up to snuff (for them)…I don’t know.