A routine vote on a Palm Beach County proclamation at Tuesday’s county commission meeting prompted a lengthy discussion on school choice.
Commissioner Steve Abrams was asked to introduce declaring Jan. 22-28 as “School Choice Week in Palm Beach County.” The motion passed, but Mayor Paulette Burdick and new commissioner Mack Bernard voted no and did not sign the proclamation.
“If you go on their web site, it is very much about charter schools. It is very much about using public funding for vouchers and scholarships,” Burdick, who sat on the county school board from 1994 to 2010, said of the group National School Choice Week.
Abrams said the group is non-partisan and doesn’t lobby and that it fully supports the option of public schools.
“It’s not about charters,” he said. “It’s not about vouchers. It’s not about tuition tax credits. All those controversial type issues. It’s about appreciating that we offer choices in the county.”
Abrams said that after hearing fellow commissioners weren’t comfortable with the group’s original proposed wording, he rewrote it himself “to best reflect the types of choices our parents and
The proclamation “does not have to do with certain types of schools that some of us, myself included, are not happy about,” said colleague Mary Lou Berger, who said she and her siblings spent their youths in parochial schools. “It’s about the choice that parents have.”
Abrams then offered to change the wording to refer only to choice in Palm Beach County; “then we don’t have to affiliate with that group at all.” He even changed the date to Feb. 22-28.
Burdick still felt the commission, by approving the proclamation, was at least indirectly supporting the national group. Bernard did not speak on the issue.
Baker said Friday that Palm Beach County now has four 2-person crews applying chemicals on the ground, searching for and emptying water containers, and educating residents, and has a person on call in the Glades. She said workers will be armed with “newer, lighter and more effective backpack sprayers and hand foggers.”
Baker also said the county’s mosquito control hotline has received an “unprecedented” volume of calls. She said the county’s health department has begun training local medical professionals to conduct educational seminars with homeowner associations. And she said, several agencies have stepped efforts to find and get rid of illegally-dumped waste tires, which fill with water and become prime mosquito breeder sites.
Baker said some 240,000 flyers have been distributed. They’re being put in county water bills and sent to county libraries and other county locations as well as Palm Beach International Airport and the Port of Palm Beach. She said the county’s working with local cities and utilities to distribute the materials as well. The flyers include one from Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (left).