Robert W. Runcie
By ROBERT W. RUNCIE
Special to South Florida Times
As Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), it is with great pride and enthusiasm that I welcome you to the 2017/18 school year. We are excited for the first day of classes on Monday, August 21, 2017.
Our innovative District schools offer incredible learning opportunities and focus on ensuring all students are college and career ready. BCPS offers a wide variety of programs to meet students’ interests and help them develop a lifelong love of learning.
We are engaging students in ways that motivate them to learn and excel, with rigorous academic courses; award-winning magnet and innovative programs; dual language programs to promote biliteracy and academic achievement; and chess for second grade students to develop their critical thinking skills.
We are reimagining education with an emphasis on offering a variety of academic enrichment programs and elective courses at every level.
We know that technology is a critical part of 21st century learning. Our schools now have more computers and technology resources to support our students’ education. Through the District’s SMART bond technology initiative, more than 83,300 new computer devices are now installed in our schools, bringing the District’s student to computer ratio to an average of 2:1, an even lower ratio than the original goal of 3.5:1. The installation of the new computers was completed ahead of schedule and under budget – and the new computers are ready for students in 2017/18.
In the upcoming school year, BCPS continues to focus on technology in the classroom to support instruction. BCPS will: • Expand our Digital Classrooms initiative, which provides personalized, blended learning environments with a one-to-one student to computer ratio. Across BCPS, schools participating in this unique program will reach more students as the program grows to include additional grade levels and classrooms. • Increase the number of schools offering the Global Scholars program to 19 schools.
This program connects BCPS students with their peers around the world as they share information and learn about cultures and important global issues. • Launch new opportunities for students to participate in computer science courses. Beginning this year, middle school students at 24 schools can now take a high school level computer science course through our partnership with Code.org. Computer science courses, curriculum and activities continue to be offered at 100 percent of our schools.
We are honored to be selected for a grant by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation and NASA. This grant will provide robotics equipment, materials and teacher professional development for ALL District schools.
It will be phased over four years and is valued at approximately $227,000.
During the 2017/18 school year, new robotics equipment and resources will enhance STEM+Computer Science (STEM+C) opportunities currently offered at 56 schools across the District, including elementary, middle and high schools. Additional schools will be added each year of the grant.
The focus is on aligning robotics instruction among feeder schools within the District’s Innovation Zones, to provide seamless opportunities for students to build upon their skills as they transition from elementary school to middle and high schools. Students will have more opportunities to put their robotics skills to the test during local robotics competitions – with the grant funding their registration fees. This opens doors for students to use their computer science knowledge as they solve challenges, collaborate and becoming critical thinkers.
BCPS also offers the largest debate and JROTC programs in the country; opportunities for students to earn industry certifications in numerous career industries; advanced academic programs allowing students to earn college credits; virtual education options; Montessori programs; and award-winning music and arts programs.
Our schools also provide outstanding athletic programs, with sports expanding in our middle schools in 2017/18 to include golf and cross-country. Our schools are preparing students for their futures and inspiring them to follow their dreams.
As we look forward to the 2017/18 school year and beyond, I encourage you to learn more about our District – and all that our schools offer – by visiting our website, browardschools.com.
On behalf of our teachers, administrators and staff, we hope students enjoyed the summer break and are ready for another successful school year! Thank you for partnering with us in your child’s education. We look forward to seeing you on August 21st!
Robert W. Runcie is the Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools.