After asking Wilton Manors Elementary School and Somerset Academy Village charter school to supply a wish list of items list for up to $1,500 each, to be funded by the city, the commission voted 3-2 to reduce the amount of money allocated to Somerset. Mayor Gary Resnick and Commissioner Julie Carson dissented.
After that vote, commissioners voted again to give the altered amounts to each school. The revised amount was $2,000 for Wilton Manors and $1,000 for Somerset.
Wilton Manors will use the money to fund a $1,300 fee to apply to be accredited by the National Institute for Magnet School Leadership. If accredited, the school would have access to best practices, grants, and scholarship eligibility, free professional development opportunities, and discounts on conferences. Wilton Manors Elementary will be allowed to decide how it spends the extra money it has been allocated but will have to report back to the commission on how it is spent.
Somerset’s use of the money includes the purchase of classroom libraries, netbook computers, updated physical education equipment, and sponsorships for disadvantaged students to attend field trips. Per a vending agreement between the city and Coca-Cola, the beverage company has donated the $3,000 to the city and given commissioners discretion in how it is spent.
The change came after Commissioner Tom Green suggested that he didn’t think a charter school should get the same level of support as a traditional public school, even though charter schools are publicly-funded and open to the public for enrollment.
“I still do not think they are the same,” Green said. “I just think Wilton Manors [Elementary] is the heart of our city,” added Commissioner Scott Newton.
Commissioner Julie Carson said she understood Green’s position but thought that both schools were still deserving of the money. “We discussed this at length,” Carson said. Resnick said Somerset deserves the original amount of $1,500. He added that more of the children who live in the city attend Somerset than do Wilton Manors Elementary.
“I object to this motion. It’s not fair to penalize them now. I think it would be unfair for us now to change the game,” Resnick said.