OCPS School Board Candidate Chadwick Hardee: Guts and Glory

OCPS 90 ChadwickHardee

by Lawrence A. Robinson
Orange County Public School district 3 election may hold the key to the survival of historically black schools in Orlando. The historic black schools are in districts 5 and are the concerns of its board member. But with the vote to close historically black Richmond Heights Elementary, district 5 needs help and an additional voice on the board.


Chadwick Hardee, candidate for district 3, has stepped forward and voiced his concerns for Richmond Height Elementary and Jones High.

Chadwick is a surprisingly fresh new type of candidate. Usually candidates stick to parochial district


concerns. However, Chadwick sees the big picture - the whole school system and its 185,000 students.

Chadwick said, "I don't think people realize that the Orange County School System has a huge annual budget of over $3 billion. The school system is the largest landowner and the largest employer in the county with over 22,000 employees."

The school board also allocates more than $200 million annually on school construction and maintenance.

This very school board convinced the voters to give them a tax increase to build more schools. Now that that money is nearly gone, everyone agrees that the school board wasted millions of dollars, most of which has not been completely accounted for. And now they have the nerve to ask voters to allow them to continue the tax increase.

Chadwick, who manages a hospitality business, says, "I have real world budget experiences. This kind of waste would never occur on my watch. I'm not against funding education, it is just that waste takes hard-earned tax dollars away from classrooms."

Focused on historically black schools, Chadwick said he will not only question the closing of Richmond Heights Elementary, he will ask for a review of the closure.

Chadwick reviewed the video of board members explaining their votes on the closure. Chadwick stated, "none of the reasons for the closure added up. They danced around budget concerns and enrollment issues."

Budget concerns? As if they didn't waste millions of dollars!

Chadwick explained that one of the big problems facing historically black schools is Island Zones. Island Zones are school assignments by which the school board in its infinite wisdom picks a few blocks in a neighborhood and assign those students to a school outside of their neighborhood.

This dirty trick not only takes students away from their neighborhood schools, but it also takes with each student over $3 thousand dollars away from needy schools and gives the money to schools in other neighborhoods. Students and money are being given to schools that are already meeting their student enrollment requirements and have hefty budgets.

This underhanded scheme has left historically black schools with low enrollments and sub-par budgets. And, this chicanery provides school board members with a fraudulent excuses to close schools. It is all a fraud. A fraud the community must demand comes to an end. They must stop stealing our children.

Chadwick explained, "The Orange County School Board establishes residential attendance zones for each school. Students are supposed to attend the school serving their residential attendance zone. This means students should be assigned to their neighborhood schools. This is school board policy."

It is also policy that the school board recognize that a child's academic success is a shared responsibility between the school and family. And the school board is supposed to support the development and implementation of parental involvement programs at each school from grade levels K through 12.

It is board policy that parental involvement is comprehensive, coordinated in nature and that parents are welcomed and encouraged in their schools.

"With Island Zones," Chadwick says, "these policies are negated." "How can working people get from their neighborhood to another neighborhood in the evening to attend PTA meetings or support their children in student extracurricular activities?"

School based plans are being made without our parents in attendance. Our children look out while engaged in activities and their parents are not there. Why, because they are not in their neighborhood schools. This dastardly plot is damaging our children in ways greater than we know.

Chadwick's explanation also explains why Jones High is at half capacity and underfunded. These fraudulent and cooked-up results will be the very excuses used to close Jones High.

Chadwick Hardee is a welcomed ally as it is unusual for a board member of another district, let alone a candidate, to become seriously interested is saving the historic educational icons of district 5.

Thank you Chadwick Hardee.