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Hollywood neighbors beset by traffic fear further expansion by Ben Gamla school

By William Gjebre, FloridaBulldog.org 

Work on the new Ben Gamla school in Hollywood nears completion. Photo: William Gjebre

Work on the new Ben Gamla school in Hollywood nears completion. Photo: William Gjebre

Representatives of a traffic-congested Hollywood neighborhood are expressing new fears regarding the Ben Gamla middle-high public charter school complex, now under construction, after discovering that ex-congressman Peter Deutsch, a top school official, is linked to the acquisition of additional nearby properties which they say could be for future expansion.

The residents say they have also learned that while the city and the Broward School Board have limited the school’s opening to about 600 students, the school board previously approved a plan that would have more than tripled enrollment.

“They have bought other properties,” said Nancy Fowler, secretary of the North Central Hollywood Civic Association. “They are planning to bring in more kids,” she added. “There is a huge discrepancy between 600 students and 2,150 students.”

“It’s going to happen,” said Helen Chervin, President of the United Neighbors of South/Central Hollywood, who accused the city and the school from doing little to protect the neighborhood. “We are damaged; this is a forgotten neighborhood.”

DEUTSCH ISN’T TALKING

Deutsch, the driving force behind the Ben Gamla public charter schools, did not return calls seeking comment. Neither did Alan Koslow, attorney for Ben Gamla.

Expected to open next month, the new school complex is one block south of Hollywood Boulevard, with limited access onto two-lane Van Buren Street from 26th and 28th avenues. During the school year, nearby streets are choked with morning and afternoon traffic as area workers and residents jockey with parents dropping off students at the existing 600-student Ben Gamla elementary school that fronts Hollywood Boulevard at the City Hall circle.

Hollywood Commissioner Peter Hernandez, who represents the neighborhood and has opposed Ben Gamla’s expansion plans from the start two years ago, remains concerned.

“It looks like they are amassing property for future expansion,” he said. An expansion to more than 2,000 students would bring “too much traffic. “It’s going to be overwhelming for the neighborhood….It will ruin the quality of life.”

Fowler’s civic association is part of a coalition of local homeowner groups and beleaguered residents opposed to Ben Gamla’s new three-story, 34,000 square foot school on property it acquired at 2648 Van Buren Street. The property, according to county records, lists title under “Van Buren Facility III LLC,” with Deutsch with the contact person.

Fowler said the various neighborhood and civic groups have heightened concerns after discovering that Ben Gamla has acquired or may be linked to other nearby properties along Van Buren Street.

The Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office website shows that three contiguous properties at 2718, 2726 and 2734 Van Buren Street, totaling 56,000 square feet, were acquired by various limited liability companies – Jackson Street Facility and 28th Ave Facility — all listing Deutsch as the contact person. The properties sold for a total of $975,000, nearly double their assigned “just market value,” in April, June and November of 2014.

The only property separating the Ben Gamla school construction site and the Deutsch-linked Van Buren Street properties is a 20,500 square-foot parcel at 2710 Van Buren Street that currently houses the Discovery Kids learning center. It was sold two months ago to DY&Z Investments LLC for $1.2 million, or double the parcel’s just market value. The registered agent for DY&Z, Yoram Ben Amram, could not be reached for comment.

There has been speculation that Ben Gamla may also be eyeing acquisition of a 29,013 square-foot property at 2750 Van Buren Street that’s owned by and housing the Unity Church of Hollywood. The property, with a just market value of about $1 million, is next to the three contiguous Van Buren Street properties that list Deutsch as a contact person.

‘OPEN’ TO A SALE

“We would be open to it [sale]…if they came in with a fair assessment value,” said Michael Rhodes, president of the board of Hollywood Unity, a non-denominational church, operating at its current location since 1965.

If Ben Gamla sought to purchase the church it would not be a surprise. “Before the school built, they approached us about sale of the church,” Rhodes said. “But they never came back, never approached us since then.”

The property transactions listing Deutsch as the contact occurred after December 2013, when the Hollywood Planning and Development Board approved Ben Gamla’s request for a zoning exception that allowed the school to build in the residential neighborhood. The city board limited the complex to 600 students, based on the size of the property and the proposed structure.

Public records show the land purchases also happened after the Broward School Board, in November 2013, approved Ben Gamla’s charter school applications for a maximum of 1050 middle school students (grades 6-8) and a maximum 1,100 high school students (grades 9-12) at the 2648 Van Buren Street location. The middle school was to open with 600 students and the high school with up to 550, according to the approved applications.

The school board authorized the Ben Gamla complex to open for the 2014-2015 school year. But at Ben Gamla’s request, the board later approved delaying the opening for one year until the upcoming 2015-2016 school year. Ben Gamla obtained a building permit last November, city officials said.

Last April, the School Board approved operating contracts with Ben Gamla stating that enrollment had to match the 600 students – 200 in the middle school and 400 in the high school – previously approved by the city of Hollywood. The contracts specify those numbers are the “minimum enrollment that will support the school’s operations at an adequate level under its approved budget.”

Broward Schools spokeswoman Nadine Drew said that should Ben Gamla want to expand beyond that it would have to seek fresh approval because the original application the board approved for as many as 2,150 students no longer applies. She said the school can come back to the board to seek an enrollment increases if it obtains more space.

Fowler, however, contends the earlier approvals have not been rescinded and that it appears as if Ben Gamla has plans to increase enrollment. She also accused the district of not being transparent regarding Ben Gamla’s Van Buren school project, noting difficulty in obtaining information regarding Ben Gamla’s applications for the new complex.

“You can’t trust that they will not go over the maximum; there is nothing binding them to 600,” Fowler said. “They have other property; they can come back at anytime. They are planning to bring in more kids.”

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  • Thank you Broward Bulldog for covering this important topic. As I have said before, Peter Deutsch’s arrogance is truly breathtaking. I would love to know why many in the Hoollywood Comission allow an out of town school with an out of the country supporter over the interests of the citizens. The condescension Ben Gamla has shown it’s neighborhood is really mind-blowing. Aside from the very poor relationship it has with the neighborhood and aside from the fact fact that it is forcing itself on neighborhoods that do not want it, this school promotes segregation, as it’s obvious focus is to teach only one of the ethnicities that make up Broward County. Next we can have White Supremacy School, Black Power School, La Escuela Exclusiva Para los Hispano Parlantes, and our kids will never mix with each other. That is a vision I do not agree with, and will end up raising a generation of people uncomfortable with people superficially different from them. I see this is what Peter Deutsch supports, but if he wants to do this, he can do it with his own money, not with our tax dollars. Also he can do it in his neighborhood (wherever that is), not someone elses with less political power than he has.

  • Article is misleading. Any charter school when applying for charter applies for maximum students. Especially if the school is unsure of the location. Final student numbers are limited by city and the buildings physical capacity.

    It is 6 or 7 self selected, chronic “anti anything” creeps that have absolutely nothing better to do than spew their hatred of this wonderful school. I been to all of these city meetings, they are everything they accuse Peter Deutsch of being: ARROGANT, SELFISH, BULLYING, INTIMIDATING, RUTHLESS, PIG HEADED, DEAF TO REASON, UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE, NOT TO MENTION SELF DESTRUCTIVE TO THEIR OWN DISTRICT.

    The current K-8 Ben Gamla is a model of intergration and multi culturalism. Children from all ethnicities and colors are well represented in the population.

    And isn’t it enough that Commisioner Hernandez has poisoned the working atmosphere in the City Hall of Hollywood? But like a modern day Haman from the Bible, he would sooner go down in political flames at his district’s and the city’s expense, than see Ben Gamla succeed.

    It is the “usual suspects” and Pete Hernandez that plagues Hollywood and District 2. Not Peter Deutsch, and not this school.

  • I notice the person above does not have the courage to post his/her name. Probably because it is a fabricated post written by someone who lives elsewhere.

  • Hey “Hollywood resident”, if you are going to badmouth someone by name, how bout you have courage to identify yourself? Be honest, you are not even in the same time zone, aren’t you?

  • Hollywood resident, your comment mentions nothing about the” SAFETY” issue that this Ben Gamla School has created for the entire City of Hollywood . Its not about the Children or the Facility, its about where this School is being built. This school is horrid and does not belong in this neighborhood.

    Your comment is all about trying to degrade a person’s good name. The Commissioner of this district is honest and forthcoming with his constituents at all times. His transparency and honesty is always shown to the residents by his words and actions. The same cannot be said for Peter Deutsch.

    There are many Adjectives to describe one who wishes to stay in the state of bearing no name. ( coward, arrogant, selfish, weakling, scared, creepy)

  • Sean Atkinson, I thank you for your post commending the Florida Bulldog covering this issue.

  • The reason the Ben Gamla Charter School is a sloppy hodge-podge non-compliant unsafe campus is that Peter Deutsch didn’t want to disclose his vision up front. He eroded the values of a nice residential neighborhood, piece by piece, thinking we wouldn’t notice. When he was applying for rights to put the high school on a short, two way street, between two heavily traveled avenues, he made promises that he never intended to keep. When he came back almost immediately for relief from those promises, citizens came out in droves to object, and now he is angry.

    If you think Ben Gamla is a good example of a public charter school, you are very wrong. If you want to see one that was planned in its entirely, up front, nothing hidden from the Commissioners, city staff, or the public – developed in the right place, on the right amount of space, with the right amount of green space and drainage, parking, classrooms, play courts and ball fields, curriculum, languages including Hebrew and Latin, and religious studies for all faiths after hours, look at Avant Garde Academy on Dixie and Taft – eleven acres of professinally and beautifully constructed buildings, interior parking and landscaping, K thru 8 with 9 thru 12 next year.

    If you haven’t time to ride by Dixie and Taft, to to Facebook – Avant Garde Academy Hollywood, a be amazed. In fairness, go to Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy Hollywood and compare.

  • There are big profits in charter schools, and this is, I believe, the main thrust behind the effort. Hiring lobbyists and attorneys costs money, and the return has to be there.

    The school will buy what ever land it needs and I feel so sorry for the community. There’s obviously no consideration for the traffic the school will create.

  • I completely agree with Hollywood Homeowner. There are a select few residents against any kind of progress who don’t care about education and are living in the dark ages that are fighting Ben Gamla and poisoning our commissioners. What a joke in saying Ben Gamla is ruining their once nice neighborhood. If anything it is a vast improvement of the neighborhood and the values. Just take a walk around the neighboring blocks and you’ll see what the so called great neighborhood is like. Talk about a safety issue. The only nice parts of the neighborhood is where Ben Gamla is investing in. Frankly Hollywood isn’t know for great schools and we are lucky to have an A rated school willing to be here. It improves our community and home values. The only racism and discrimination be exhibited here is by the few ignorant residents that don’t care about children or the community’s quality of education.

    Do you realize the residents and the commissioner have instituted a rule violating people’s civil rights. Let me explain: The people putting negative Ben Gamla comments on here have influenced Hernandez to institute a rule that Ben Gamla parents can’t park at City Hall or the Library to drop their children off even though it is public parking. So they aren’t allow one group of people to park there while allowing the rest of the public to do so. Is this not a perfect definition of discrimination and a violation of our civil rights? Meanwhile Ben Gamla has invested in the community, provided one of the few A rated schools in the state, improved infrastructure of the area and has and incredibly diverse student body and faculty inclusive of all ethnicities.

  • The loss of parking at city hall especially in the early morning hours before school starts is absolutely punative and vindictive.

    In addition, putting the school under a microscope before afterschool care starts is a waste of tax payer dollars, as it does not demonstrate the regular impact of the day to day operations. Counting children like cattle and VIDEOTAPING them is a disgusting, jack booted approach.

    Pete Hernandez and his ilk has chased away substantial, seasoned employees in city hall. He continues to make an ass of himself and our wonderful city.

    I thank Jeff Smith for his spot on commentary.

  • It is unbelievable that Pete Hernandez believes that videotaping children escorted by their parents is a good use of the public’s resources. Again take a look at the neighboring properties around the school. That is were resources need to be allocated and have video taping to improve public safety and the overall quality of the community – not innocent children just trying to get to school on time.

    This is the same LONE commissioner that voted against Margaritaville that has invested millions in the improvement of Hollywood (not just in their hotel they are building), are creating jobs and keeping the community on the fast track to growth.

    The commissioner’s own words were he wasn’t against the school being built just not in his community. So what is the commissioner’s vision for the community – no new schools or growth of their educational system, turning down new business development, against promoting tourism? How does any of this make our community better? Is his vision the status quo in not having any quality public schools parents can send their children to, and discouraging new development in an area that was falling apart and has high crime?

    This is why people need to get out and vote for our commissioner’s. These type of elections are more important to our community than the Presidential Election. Without people voting in local elections a select few bullies can control the vote and manipulate a commissioner to make decisions that overwhelmingly unpopular and counterproductive. Just look at his voting record and quotes that clearly expose his idealism against to community growth, doing away with hatred and discrimination, bringing in quality employees to City Hall, reducing crime and improving education.

    We need more residents like Hollywood Homeowner to speak about and expose the discriminatory nature of Pete Hernandez and his band of bullies in an otherwise tremendous city and board of county commissioners!

  • In Chevrin’s own words, this is a a forgotten damaged community. Umm I think the best thing you can ask for in that case is doing something to attract more young minds, children and quality public education. Additionally it is a good thing and incredibly lucky thing for the community that an organization is willing to invest much much more than market value into properties that are falling apart and haven’t been worked on for decades in the name of better public education. The school quite frankly is the most positive thing going for this community at the moment.

    You have to question anyone who thinks it would’ve been better not to develop these dilapidated properties that in most cases were generating nothing for the community, Now we have an A rated school in a city that desperately needs more quality public educational institutions.

    This is a public school, not a hedge fund or greedy business looking to take advantage of the little people. Their business is educating children as a public charter school. Jeez what a terrible thing!

  • To get a perspective on the issue of cramming a school into a neighborhood, take a ride to Dixie and Taft and see what Ben Gamla is not.

    Avant Garde Academy is what every school should be.

    FYI. representatives for the Academy made a presentation to the residents before submitting their plans and the “so-called ignorant residents who hate kids and don’t want them educated” were delighted with the plans, and approved of the plans, even though it’s near our homes.

    So don’t be saying it’s about kids and education. It’s about reduction in the value of homes due to noise and traffic. It’s about one man who doesn’t like rules and regulations and thinks he’s special.

    Right now, today, he is constructing a play court that the city did not approve because it abutts residential back yards. Mr. Smith, if that is your real name, how would you like to wake up on a Sunday morning to heavy machinery in your back yard?

    That’s all this is about.

  • I totally disagree with the proponents of these Charter Schools who can honestly say these schools have not begatively impacted the proximate neighborhoods, as well as the through traffic conditions in all directions from everyone of them. Take a ride when they are releasing students to see the horror of total gridlock, and with parents parking all over illegally, and walking through all the newly planted landscape leaving after pick-up their children.
    Traffic studies are required, and it is obvious that whomever submitted, reviewed and apprioved all of these was not doing an honest evaluation.

  • Hey Linda and Karen, we all know you are Hernandez’s pupeteer and the only reason he is still in office. Some day enough residents will inform themselves and get him out of office.

    What a joke and nonsense you are spewing. I encourage anyone reading this stream of comments to drive by the school and look at the structures the school has built and then take a look a the existing properties that people like Karen and Linda are talking about. Can you say crack houses? Yeah young respectful children ruining new landscaping. Ha what new landscaping, the only thing new in that area are things the school has built and invested millions in. The rest of it is a slum. All you have to do is look around to see the proof.

    Wow some of your words even are that of a truly bitter person “Take a ride when they are releasing students to see the horror of total gridlock” – that is the first time I ever heard of parents picking up their children referred to as “total horror”. The only true horror are the slums and crime infested properties neighboring the school property.

    By the way news flash every school has traffic during pick up and drop off times. The fact is no one used to drive down those streets because they were crime infested and there was nothing safe to go see in that area.

    Oh and that play park you are talking about that you say is reducing your property value. For a few months of construction inconvenience you will now have for the rest of your life a beautiful play court where young children and school teachers convene vs what is there now an slum that numerous drug deals and criminal activity went on. Again you just need to take a look at these properties to see the proof. YOUR PROPERTY VALUES INCREASING BECAUSE OF THIS CONSTRUCTION!

    Frankly it is residents like you that are adding to the traffic problem by persuading Hernandez to violate the parents and students civil rights by not allowing them to park in the the public city hall parking lot for 5 minutes while they drop their kids off. Did you know the city was supposed to lease parking spots to the school but they never did? And regardless it is PUBLIC PARKING PAID FOR BY TAXPAYERS! To not allow a segment of people to park their just because you don’t like the idea of the school being there is grossly discriminatory!

    Avante Garde will be a great school too. Sorry but they fact that you keep bringing that up makes no sense. They didn’t propose to build where Ben Gamla is. One school has nothing to do with the other. Avante Garde is being built in an area with much more property. It probably wasn’t even for sale when Ben Gamla was being built. Ben Gamla has been around for almost a decade. Bottom line where all these schools are being built is going to add value to their neighborhoods. You can never have enough great public schools in a city. However you certainly have too many slums which is what that street used to be and THAT’S A FACT!

  • Dear Anonymous Hollywood Resident,

    We are not reading beyond the first line. We are sure what you have to say is nothing new or true, and probably tedious. When you have the courage of your convictions enough to identify yourself, especially while you throwing stone at others, we’ll read what you have to say.

    We don’t know you, therefore we don’t hear you.

    Karen

  • Dear anonymous non-Hollywood Resident.
    I am surprised that you think the school was opened in a slum, full of crack houses. If that is the case, I suggest the school move its facilities immediately. I would suggest a beautiful, welcoming neighborhood, with wide streets, like Emerald Hills.

  • spooky Hollywood Resident, Your repulsive remarks about transparent residents who have commented on your ridiculous behavior and attention seeking with all the false statements made about a neighborhood that has been here long before this wretched monstrosity ruined this picturesque neighborhood and caused SAFETY concerns for all.

    Millions of dollars were spent to take property taxes off the tax rolls.. This is a residential neighborhood and the slum and blight that has been erected is a pity.

    Who pulls your strings? The comments are exactly the same as those made at neighborhood associations meetings. Screaming in residents faces trying to intimidate them with outburst of horror.

    The comments made by residents are so true the longer you remain anonymous the better.

  • Helen is right. You’re the person who wrote the angry letter to the city because you have to queue to drop off your kids because, after six years of illegally parking at City Hall, you have been caught and banned.

    Your’re not an advocate for education, you’re an elitist who thinks you are above all the other parents who follow rules and set good examples for their kids.

    You don’t care about them, only about yourself. You don’t “get” that if you have the right to park at City Hall, everyone also has that right.

    If you are advocating for everyone, and not just your special self and a few others, write to Senator Sobel, Commissioner Furr, and Mayor Bober and ask them to more the library and the government center out of “crack city” to another location so there is enough parking on City Hall circle for everyone who patronizes the area.

    If you believe Van Buren Street is “crack city”, why are you taking your kids there when you could be sending them to the beautifully planned and executed Avante Garde School?

    .

  • I just read the article about the Charter School Complex in central Hollywood. I am bewildered.Why would anyone want to put a charter or any school in a small complex area such as this? Also to describe the area as slum, crack city, crime infested and you build a school there? I don’t get it. I am thinking hmmm, if they can run the reputation into the ground it will become a blighted area and then they eventually purchase the whole area for their school..i would certainly have some resentment if, someone from another area came into my area and did this, and made, these insults and accusations. I think you should do this in your own community not someone else’s. I think there is a method to your madness. I would also like to say that I think Mr. Hernandez is a by the people, for the people city commissioner.He is entitled to speak for the people of his districtcwithout you washing the floor with him. Shame on you. By the way, I am a 33 year resident of Hollywood, I pay taxes here, and I vote here. I do not live in this, district.

  • Wow you all are revealing yourselves as the puppeteers of Mr Hernandez and discriminatory to the teachers and families of Ben Gamla. And all your assumptions and accusations are completely false:

    1. FALSE – The school was built without approval and was built illegally- um this is simply impossible. Just because Hernandez didn’t approve doesn’t mean it wasn’t approved and built with permits. Just because you spoke out against the school doesn’t mean it wasn’t approved. That just is an outright lie. You can’t build a building in the middle of a highly populated major city and have it be part of the Public Education system without going through a massive amount government approvals and certifications. Your comment is fantasy land.

    2. FALSE – I’m an elitist who wrote an angry letter about the parking. What a joke I’m a middle class parent and resident who sends their child to a PUBLIC SCHOOL. Ben Gamla is a PUBLIC SCHOOL and not an elistist for the rich Private School. I have no idea what letter you are talking about but it is obvious others feel the same way. I don’t even know who Duetch is which who you obviously hate.

    3. FALSE – Parents have been parking illegally at City HALL for 6 years. Um it is City Hall PUBLIC PARKING! I reiterate the word PUBLIC! The only illegal violation is discriminating against a small population of the public. And by the way this article is about the High School. It was just opened this year so no one from the high schools has been parking there for 6 years! And by the way that structure for the K-8 has been there long before it was Ben Gamla. They were just failing businesses or vacated space that Ben Gamla renovated, improved and is now run as an A rated PUBLIC School. So really all your complaining about for these years wasn’t about the structure but the fact that now parents drop there children off there to get educated and that is somehow causing a major safety issue. Frankly the school has invested tons of money in crossing guards, infrastructure, and hightened security for in an area that was previously abandoned and infested with high crime and homelessnes. I really love how you refer to the mothers and children as being “Banned” From the City Hall and Public Library parking lots. WOW!

    4. FALSE – The School has ruined what was once a picturesque neighborhood. This is the biggest lie of all. You can’t deny the proof. Just walk down Van Buren to see the existing properties and then look at the improvements the School has made and continues to invest millions to make. That part of the street was a crime infested dilapidated forgotten about area. Thank goodness someone is investing to redevelop a street that no one was proud to go to. Anyone reading this just needs to take a walk down that street and try to find anything that was picturesque about the existing properties.

    5. FALSE – Telling people to just go to Avante Garde. You don’t even live near Avante Garde. Yes it is a great school too and we are lucky to have the built in Hollywood. However the high school isn’t even open yet. Also there is already a huge waiting list to get in as there just as there is for Ben Gamla. This is a testament there aren’t anywhere close to enough quality public high schools in this area. The only way this city will thrive is to continue to build more new quality PUBLIC SCHOOLS. These aren’t private or for the rich or in anyway elitist. You are revealing you biggoted agenda against 1 person who was the driving force to bring Ben Gamla to Hollywood. That is fine if you don’t like that person or his vision to develop Van Buren but the school is there now, the roads are improved and investment is continuing. It isn’t going anywhere and the only people you are fighting with are the parents, moms, children and teachings who go to Ben Gamla.

    You’ve revealed yourselves as the ones who have influenced the City to video tape parents dropping their children off at the school and now saying we are banned from parking at the City Hall parking lot. What a great use of the public’s resources. This is why that neighborhood has been falling apart for years. You have no vision on how to keep a community thriving. Schools are a must and they are always going to create some traffic issues just like a thousand other things create traffic issues in a thriving city. Avante Garde isn’t without their own traffic challenges nor is any other school. Van Buren is now transforming from a slum with broken roads to new infrastructure and choice for residents to send their kids to an A Rated Public School.

    As a parent of a student in the school I can tell you the people who go there love this community and invest in it and if you embraced what is already there I’m sure they’d be happy to work with you to make more improvements to the surrounding area. However your vendetta against Duetsch who I don’t even know or care about isn’t doing anything positive. All your efforts are doing is making things more challenging for the current teachers, students and parents who go to this school. The school is part of the community now and to say why don’t you get the mayor move it along with City Hall and the Library is fantasy land. That is not going to happen. The people who go and work at the school are wonderful people not elitist as you put it. They are middle class and lower income Hollywood residents of all ethnicities. You don’t even realize that is who you are hurting it’s not Deutch,

  • Google Maps says it’s a 450-foot walk from an ideal spot in the City Hall parking lot to the school entrance. It estimates walking to the school takes 2 minutes. That’s a four-minute round trip through “a crime infested dilapidated forgotten about area”. In good weather. Twice a day.

    Of course, the walk would be longer if the best parking spot isn’t available. If parents don’t care about their safety or that of their children, they can shorten the trip by jaywalking across Hollywood Boulevard on the curve.

    So, it’s a fact that some people would prefer to spend 8 minutes a day alone (or just with their children) in a place they consider to be dangerous than to safely drop off their children at or within school grounds.

    If you add in the time to park and leave the lot (maybe 2-3 minutes total, twice a day), parents would rather spend 15 minutes a day on foot than to wait in the car line.

    The school must be creating horrific amounts of traffic to make these choices appealing. Fortunately for these parents, they don’t live in the community and don’t have to care about their effects on it.

  • The school itself is only a small part of the problem. The greater problem is people who attend the school and have no regard for the communities that host and surround it. I assume that most people are decent, and the problem people are selfish minority of the school’s total attendance. I hope that everyone else would be happy to help, if they could.

    If you think about it, the traffic congestion that hurts the local communities is the same one that makes it more convenient to avoid the car lines, park away from the school, and walk (not drive) the rest of the way in.

    Even if traffic congestion can’t be solved completely, finding ways to lessen traffic’s impact would save time every day for all the parents who commute their children to the school. At the same time, it would lift some of the burden the school is inflicting on the local communities.

  • Anthony you seem like one of the few level headed people discussing this issue and you have a point. As a parent myself of the school I can tell you I use the drop-off line and I’ve also lectured other parents who I’ve seen park in spots in the neighboring areas that aren’t public parking spots. I’ve told those parents parking there brings a huge amount of negative attention on the school and takes time away from our principle to focus on running the school as she has to deal viscous complaints. Our principle has actually told parents she can expel students whose parents park in illegal spots. Actually you will notice once the after care started after the first week of school there has been a huge drop in traffic issues on that street. The school has bent over backwards and have invested in more crossing guards and security per student than any other public school in the city.

    However, there are many on this commentary chain that have used the traffic issues as a way to push there discriminatory feelings against the school. It is a fact and they don’t even deny that they influenced the City to ban the parents from parking at City Hall which is absolutely a civil rights violation. They also don’t deny they have influenced the city to video tape parents walking their children to school. This is disgusting and brings out their true colors.

    I’m sorry there may be a select few who think rules don’t apply to them and actually our principle has sent out numerous communications and personally discussed with our parents stating that behavior won’t be tolerated. However overwhelmingly the majority of parents at our school live in Hollywood including the district the school resides and respect the rules. They follow the directions of local traffic rules and crossing guards and aren’t Jaywalking. For some of the people on this discussion chain it is obvious they have a deep disdain and racist agenda against he founder of the school and what it stands for which is really what’s behind their efforts. It’s not about jaywalking. Frankly I don’t care about the founder or how the school got built, I just a quality public school option for my children near my house. This is where we got accepted to and we are thankful to get an A rated education for our children within the public school system which before Ben Gamla was built wasn’t available this district or anywhere near my house. The trade off between have a quality public school option and an little more traffic too me so much more beneficiary to the community.

    Anthony I appreciate you level headed commentary and I can tell you from being on the inside of the school that it’s staff has zero tolerance for any parent that think the rules don’t apply to them. They have hired and trained tons of crossing guard staff and told parents they can be expelled if they park illegally. However banning and video taping parents and children from a city hall and library public parking lot is an absolute violation of our civil rights (it’s not legal if this issue went to court) and just looks and sounds bad that this is what some residents are spending their time on. It shows that for some of the people on this commentary chain it is about a disdain and discriminating against the founder and that the school teaches the Hebrew language (not religion). This isn’t about jaywalking.

  • I have not one time ever heard anyone bring religion into the equation, except for Alan Koslow when he claimed that discrimination and bias were the reasons he was not successful in getting a permit for a play court and bathrooms, which would have been adjacent to residents’ back yards.

    Some of the opposition to the location of the new school comes from persons who attend Temple, so it’s not about that. Don’t make it about that because it isn’t about that.

    Fomenting a theme of persecution and hatred is a terrible thing.

  • Um yes it is a terrible thing. But look at the comments in here telling me to go back to Emerald Hills (where is a largely jewish population) and calling me and the people who go to this school elitist. What do you think that is insinuating.

    Or for more proof look at some past articles where people on this commentary string were QUOTED calling for investigations against the school for its lack of separation between church and state (which the school was rightfully vindicated for):

    https://www.floridabulldog.org/2013/09/concern-about-ben-gamla-curriculum-sparks-inquiry-by-broward-schools/

    https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2013-church-state/people-events/fla-hebrew-charter-school-under-investigation

    I’m sorry to say this is very much about hatred. I genuinely wish it wasn’t and this was merely about jaywalking and traffic. If that was the case people wouldn’t trying to shut the school down, video tape children, calling us elitists, calling for church and state investigations and telling us to leave an go to Emerald Hills. These are actions of hatred, not those of fellow community and city residents trying to come to reasonable solutions for traffic and jaywalking.

    Look at some of the past articles when the community was asked to come visit the school by our principle and see all the positive things that go on there. I’m sure some who oppose the school do go to Temple and others who aren’t Jewish oppose it for genuine reasons and those people would actually talk and work with the school as joint members of the population. However, there is a well known small band of bullies that has a completely different agenda who are hiding behind traffic congestion but can’t hide behind their comments around elitism, Emerald Hills, separation of church and state. I really wish that wasn’t the case but it is! The words are all here in plain print in the above articles and commentary string.

  • You may have been profiled as elitist and/or affluent based on a number of considerations, including but not limited to:

    You have the luxury and time to drive your children to school. The time you devote to the task can vary significantly depending on weather and other conditions. Even unpredictable things like traffic lights can cause significant delays. People whose economic status depends on getting to work consistently on time would delegate this risk to someone else, such as a car pool or public school bus.

    You don’t live close enough for your children to walk or bicycle to school. This could indicate that you live far from the school, or that you live closer but pamper your children.

    However, you’ve stereotyped the neighborhoods surrounding the school as a “slum”. This suggests you’re from somewhere else. Somewhere you consider better than those neighborhoods.

    You may be receiving backlash from the good, hard-working people who live in those “slums” in part because you’ve insulted their homes. You may wish to continue posting such things anonymously.

    Above that, by avoiding the car lines that normal Ben Gamla parents use, you appear to esteem yourself higher than them.

  • @”Hollywood Resident”

    It’s good to hear the parents and school have worked to reduce the impact they have on the area.

    The land purchases around the school seem to indicate that the school could expand to fill some or all of its 2,150-student charter.

    How well will the current measures handle the potential 358% increase in the student body? If additional measures are planned, what can be done to assure everyone they’re sufficient? Can the public whose quality of life is affected by the school’s plans have a part in the process?

    When you said the school improved the slums and crack houses there, you implied that it drove away the druggies and poor people. Logically, the better class of people who must now be living there expect more.

  • OMG what hateful nonsense you are spewing. You are just proving my point and exposing yourself for your hateful feelings about the people who go to this school.

    Since when has it become elitist of privileged to drop your children off at school? Since when has it become a major traffic and citywide safety crisis to spend an 2 extra minutes to hug your child and tell them you love them as you walk them to school. That is a first I’ve every heard a claim like that. I drive my kids to school on my way to work. That is hardly something only for the privileged. It would be much easier for me to send them to a school that isn’t even closer to my house school and plop them on a bus just because it would be more convenient for me to go to a school that consistently rates poorly within Broward County education scores. I value the extra few minutes I get with my children and I choose to get up earlier and go out of my way during my morning commute on my way to work to spend yes a precious few extra minutes with my kids.

    Since when is it considered good parenting to let you first grader or kindergartener bike or walk by themselves to school no matter how close they may be. Wow.

    And since when does it mean your elitist because you live a couple of miles from your local public school and not right next door. That makes no sense. I’m a city resident and have ZERO other options for a public A rated school from k to highschool that are remotelyclose to me as Ben Gamla is.

    Do you know how many public High Schools there are in District 2 other than Ben Gamla. The answer is ZERO! I’m not even talking about A rated B rated, C rated. Just any. Again the answer is ZERO! What kind of community can thrive with absolutely no public school system whatsoever for its teenagers which is what you are proposing.

    As for traffic again look at the video this NBC news story on the school:

    http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Church-State-Separation-Issue-at-Hollywoods-Ben-Gamla-Charter-School-Revived-After-Comments-by-School-Founder-224003041.html

    Even the reporter says traffic looks ordinary compared to other schools. This isn’t about traffic. If it was the few local residents that are on that street or one street over could easily work with Ben Gamla to address their issues for the 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon where traffic is a heavier.

    No this is about hatred. That is the only reasonable explanation for a disgusting effort to video tape moms and their kids and ban them from City Hall public parking. That is not how a joint community should treat each other.

    Sorry if I offend people for calling that small section of Van Buren a dilapidated crime infested slum but that is in no way an elitist comment. I don’t like crime in my neighborhood, do you? Anyone reading this can take a walk down that street and see what is really there, you can’t deny that. This was not a thriving and safe street. It was falling apart. Now there are new buildings, new infrastructure, heightened security and yes it is growing. It is such a terrible thing that now this street will serve to provide an A rated public education to a growing number of middle and low income children and parents. How terrible, this once deserted crime infested street is expanding and being visited daily with a growing number of children with their families of all ethnicities of the middle and lower income class . You make it sound like there were hundreds of homes and residents on this small section of the street. Again anyone can take a walk down the street and see what is really there and how positively or negatively the community is affected and then determine if these remarks about going back to emerald hills, elitist, church and state are about increasing traffic or is it something else. Your words speak for themselves.

  • The opinions I expressed were not necessarily my own. After you played a race card, I took the time to evaluate what you said vs. what people said about you. I thought you should know the non-racial things I found that could support their impressions. I don’t care what you do with that information, as ignoring it can’t hurt anyone but you.

    For example, it seems to bother you that politicians aren’t listening to you as much as they may be to other people. However, no successful politician wants the liability of being associated with someone who seems to be insulting their voters.

  • I’m glad these are not your opinions as they are horrible way to talk about the parents and students of this school. As far as the politicians not listening to me well they voted 5 -1 FOR the School and 6-1 if you include the Mayor.

    The one who is not listening oh yes that would be Hernandez. And he was quoted as saying We are not against the school, we just don’t want it here, YOU DON’t Live HERE.

    First of all there are student who live in District 2 who go to school there. Second of all that is a RUDE and HORRIBLE thing to say to honest hard working parents and children most of whom live in the city of Hollywood for which he serves. WE DO LIVE HERE.

    I’m not playing the race card I’m just not burying my head in the sand either. If you can’t see there is much more going on here than simply a traffic issue then your selectively excluding a sad and obvious underlying message of hatred of a small group of people. This doesn’t represent the majority of city residents.

  • I didn’t watch the NBC video. The caption below it says “Published Monday, Sept. 16, 2013”. I don’t see how conclusions about today can be drawn from evidence from two years ago.

    Even if the video were an accurate illustration of contemporary conditions, that wouldn’t address concerns about the future growth potential exceeding 300%.

    For myself, the most concerning aspect of this situation is that the school isn’t being open and transparent. They’re keeping it under wraps, which implies they have something to hide.

    People posting anonymously make me wonder the same thing.

  • That is a valid concern and yes there probably will be growth in that area but to say it’s not transparent isn’t true when everything has been disclosed as a matter of public record. In fact this small little public school has been more under the microscope of the public eye as any in the country. Let’s be real, it’s not because its in a high traffic area. It is because they teach the Hebrew Language.

    The property sales are public record, the original application for over 2,000 students is public. I’m not under any kind of illusion that Deutch isn’t trying to expand the school footprint on that street. In fact he has been loud in publicly saying that is what he’s trying to do that and he’s doing it legally. If that’s a secret it is the worst kept secret I’ve ever heard.

    I can understand the point of view of not wanting over expansion and that will be one of continuing debate for our city politicians as the years go by and more applications are submitted. The city is growing and as it does more schools will be needed to support to the growing population. Probably not everyone will be perfect or built in the most ideal spot. Too me it is worse to not have a city or community with an option to send you child to a decent public school anywhere close to where you live.

    My opinion is increasing the public school footprint in a district that has grossly underachieved in providing public school options and has zero options for high school could use some expansion especially on a street that has basically been abandoned.

    I respect others opinions but not when the use this article to tell lies and say the school was built illegally, or that parents and children have been caught and banned from parking at city hall which was never illegal, or calling for separation of church state investigations.

    My opinion is increasing the public school footprint in a district that has grossly underachieved in providing public school options and has zero options for high school could use some expansion especially on a street that has basically been abandoned.

    I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and there is always a valid side to both parts of a polarizing issue just like pro life and pro choice. I get that but at the same time I’m not going to sit quiet and listen to a well know small group with a hateful agenda without bringing some attention to it. That group deserves its own scrutiny.

    I choose not to identify myself on the internet because I’m a parent of young children, and I don’t think randomly disclosing my name and address to anyone on the internet is a responsible thing to do for my family. My name is irrelevant. I’m simply a regular middle class mom and parent of children attending Ben Gamla who lives less than 5 miles from the school.

  • It is a misconception that Hollywood schools are not good schools. I suggest anyone who wants to argue the opposite have a conversation with our School Board representative, Ann Murray. Another misconception is about the public aspect of Charter Schools.

    Charter schools are privately-owned schools that receive public funds to operate. These schools operate like magnet schools whose enrollment is predominantly commuter students just like the magnet programs in the publicly owned and operated schools such as Beachside Montessori in Hollywood.

    Technically Charters are considered public schools because these schools are publicly funded, however, there are a number of requirements that publicly-owned and managed schools must meet from which Charter Schools are exempt and those differences such as exempting Charter schools from the same acreage required to build a new publicly-owned school.

    The school board has no say over the parcel size Ben Gamla or any other charter school chooses to build on making it a political issue and not a technical or functional issue.

    The conceptual argument for allowing Charter Schools to be funded with public dollars was to actually provide a choice to families of underserved populations because of situations where the public schools were failing the children of that demographic. But what factors go into a failing school.

    As many educators will confirm, the lack of parent involvement is a major factor. This same lack of parent involvement often ends up excluding those same underserved population of childrenfrom a charter school like Ben Gamla because of charter school rules that require so many hours of parental involvement. If the family can’t meet those requirements, it means the family is not eligible for admittance to the school, and if the parents agree but fail to fulfill their obligations, the family’s children are discharged from the school and told to go back to a publicly owned and operated school.

    What is the economic demographic at Ben Gamla? I don’t know. I haven’t studied the economic class of the students attending. However, one indicator of an underserved family is one where the children qualify for free or reduced meal fees. Example: Children in a family of four get free meals if the family income is $31,525 or less, reduced if the annual income is $44,863 or less. An entire school can qualify for free meals if 40% or more of the student population is identified as low income. http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/foodservice/2014-15%20Notice%20of%20F&R%20Policy%20(website).pdf

    The neighborhood where Ben Gamla Foundation chose for these schools is what used to be called a working class neighborhood. It doesn’t mean the residents aren’t educated. It doesn’t mean they are drug addicts and alcoholics. It means they just don’t make as much money as people in more affluent neighborhoods. There are plenty of hard working people who own homes in this neighborhood. There are also a large number of people on limited income, including senior citizens.

    The American dream is to own your own home. Well, the reality is that not everyone can afford a home that costs more than $150,000. Likewise, the City of Hollywood over the years has failed to invest in the infrastructure that would elevate property values in the neighborhood. So if it looks run down to you, what does that mean? The lawns aren’t sodded, watered and manicured? The swales are in disrepair? There are few sidewalks? Yes, there are properties that have serious issues. Despite repeated requests from residents, the City has short staffed code enforcement for years allowing these problems to grow.

    The crash of 2008 hit central Hollywood hard because unscrupulous lenders who overvalued homes and loans. Many of these foreclosures have been purchased by absentee owners and rented out to undesirables… again, residents begging for help and getting little from the City with the exception of the police who have done all they can to do within the law to take out the bad guys.

    Peter Deutsch and the Ben Gamla Foundation are not the saviors of this neighborhood. The first Ben Gamla school was opened with no interest in communicating with the neighborhood. It has been a shove it down your throats approach. Why is the school there. Politics. Mr. Bernie Friedman was a founding member of the Ben Gamla Foundation. He was a friend with Mara Giulanti and others on the City Commission at the time… if it had been a new publicly owned and operated school it never would have been allowed on that site because it didn’t and still doesn’t meet the acreage required for the number of students that a publicly owned school must meet.

    Now Mr. Koslow, the Foundation’s attorney of record, is talking about petitioning the City to change the zoning on Van Buren to Commercial. Well that would be quite a lucrative business move for Ben Gamla Foundation. The school property now is tax exempt. Get it re-zoned to commercial and if at some time in the future the Foundation decides it is in their best interest to cease school operations on this property, they will be able to explode the value of the land and improvements to a commercial value that far exceeds what it was as residential. It sits as commercial property as tax exempt and no taxes paid on it while it is used as a school. Would that be worth operating a school for another 10 years or so… probably.

  • Um Reality Check I think you need a reality check as your points are completely misleading and definitely NOT factual.

    I love this discussion chain because the more it goes on the more it exposes people who are trying to shut this school down because of “traffic concerns” really have a separate agenda and putting out lies and misinformation. Everything I’m saying here is the TRUTH.

    LIE – a Charter isn’t truly a public school. Nothing could be more false. Just do your own search on florida state law on charter schools and statutes:

    http://leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfmApp_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=1000-1099/1002/Sections/1002.33.html

    The very first sentence of the Florida statue says it is a PUBLIC SCHOOL: “1) AUTHORIZATION.—Charter schools shall be part of the state’s program of public education. All charter schools in Florida are public schools. A charter school may be formed by creating a new school or converting an existing public school to charter status.”

    Sorry the fact that it is owned by a privately held not for profit organization doesn’t mean it isn’t a public school.

    LIE – The key criteria and guiding principle for a Charter School is for it to aid under served populations because of situations where the public schools were failing the children of that demographic. Well that is certainly one good reason to do it but that is no where listed in the Florida Statutes. What the LAW does say are some of the charter schools guiding principles are:

    “Meet high standards of student achievement while providing parents flexibility to choose among diverse educational opportunities within the state’s public school system.”

    “Provide rigorous competition within the public school district to stimulate continual improvement in all public schools.”

    “Expand the capacity of the public school system.”

    “Mitigate the educational impact created by the development of new residential dwelling units.”

    Yes your are Charter Schools are exempt from ad valorem taxes and are granted some freedom from some restrictive guidelines from traditional public schools. However charter schools have a higher minimum requirements for the standard of education ratings allowed before they are shut down.

    Lie – “It is a misconception that Hollywood schools are not good schools.” Yes I’m sure a local school board representative Ann Murray would say Hollywood Schools are great. If she doesn’t say that then she is basically saying she is doing a bad job. In fact in that discussion I’m sure she would talk about the A rated charter schools as part of that conversation. You are correct there are some really good Hollywood public schools and many of them are Charter Schools. That isn’t the argument here. The fact is there is a local epidemic of too few good public schools to support the population. THAT IS A FACT – Every Single A rated public school in Hollywood has a long waiting list. There are grossly less spots available than the resident demand for these schools. Also District 2 (Hernandez’s District) has ZERO public High Schools other than Ben Gamla which he is trying to shut down. AGAIN that number is ZERO, NADA, ZILCH! Yet he and his band of bullies claim they are not against education but it is about traffic concerns.

    That is a HUGE LIE. Actions speak louder than words. The proof is in his record. How can his district have zero high school public school options and the one new on that becomes available he tries to shut down.

    BTW I went to the school today at 8:45 am as my daughter forgot something she needed for class. There wasn’t one car driving on that street at that time. Sorry but a little bit of traffic congestion for 30 minutes in the morning and at 2 pm in the afternoon is hardly a district wide safety epidemic. I’ll tell you what is a district wide epidemic. Having NO PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM whatsoever for HIGH SCHOOL in your district!

    Lie – Ben Gamla will throw financially challenged families out of the school if they can’t meet parent participation minimums. Um nothing could be further from the truth. That isn’t the type of school Ben Gamla is, our values are the complete opposite of that. Never in the history of the school has a child been thrown out of the school because of their financial challenges and time hardships. In fact there are a number of students and families that have tough financial situations and the teachers and parents do many things to help them and even donate their own money so these families can celebrate Thanksgiving and the Holiday seasons. Anytype of dire financial situation that is brought to our principles attention has been handled with compassion and trying to help that family and never have they been thrown out of the school because of it. Our principle wouldn’t have that and frankly neither would the parents. Again the principal has reached out and publicly invited district 2 residents against the school to come and visit the school to see what they are about and jointly work together to improve the community. Unfortunately no one has taken her up on the offer.

    Lie – the section of the street the school is built on is causing an enormous residential crisis that wasn’t there before. Fact this section of the street has been abandoned for years and it has always backed up to commercial businesses. Hey City HALL is right there as well. The amount of traffic city hall causes has a thousand times more impact on the traffic conditions of the area. Let’s shut down and move city hall and the public library too. Again fantasy land!

    Again Hernandez and his small band of bullies are hiding behind traffic but the more they expose their views on this discussion trail it is obvious about what their agenda is (going after the 1 high school that exists in their district for a separation of church and state violation, lying about the residential exposure of that street, misinforming about what is a charter school, video taping children and moms walking to school, banning them from public parking.

    Actually the videotaping has backfired because the only thing on those tapes are city resources walking up to innocent parents and children and telling them they aren’t allowed to park in the public parking lot because of where they go to school. THAT IS DISCRIMINATION. There are no parents screaming at these city resources who are video taping them and they have been peacefully following what they are telling them despite that fact that it is a civil rights violation. Sorry but that is what is on the video tapes!

    Lie – the founder of the school is doing this to hold the property and sell it for a huge profit once the area is zoned commercial. Um most of the area is already zoned commercial and the founder has opened a bunch of Ben Gamla Schools all over the state. His is very public about his charter and mission. Furthermore there are power in numbers and just like hundreds of parents in favor of the school came to City Hall when they were debating whether the school should be approved their would be a public backlash from those same people if the founder ever tried to shut the school down for a real estate flip.

    I don’t live in the land of make believe and I’m not in denial that the founder of this school leveraged his political relationships to help move this project along but it was all done legally. Furthermore what major city and governmental project doesn’t get done without some networking and leveraging relationships. Reality Check I live in the Real World and not Fantasy Land and the false statements made by many on this discussion trail will not get me or the thousands of other city residents to stand by and accept the discriminatory efforts of a small interest group that label themselves as activists hiding behind traffic safety. Actions and facts speak louder than words:

    Going after the school for its separation between church and state
    Telling me to go back to Emerald Hills and calling the parents of that school elitist
    Video taping moms and children simply walking to school
    Banning families from city hall parking because of where they go to school
    Saying your for education when there isn’t one public high school in the district until Ben Gamla and you are trying to shut that down

    There is your reality check

  • You clearly don’t have a clue as to the either the history or the facts of this situation. All you have is your self-serving opinions. Both Ben Gamla and Beachside Montessori have a hugely disproportionately white student body. Neither school reflects the demographics of either the neigborhoods or neighborhood schools where the schools are located. Both schools have a much higher percentage of students who DON’T qualify for reduced or free school meals. Interpret those facts anyway you want. Ben Gamla is Bernie Friedman’s and Peter Deutsch’s baby, and Beachside Montessori was Jennifer Gottlieb’s and Eleanor Sobel’s baby. Fact not Fiction. By the way, you are providing a great insight into the biased perspective that residents have had to deal with since Ben Gamla opened. Please keep sharing, and enjoy the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8f9wyqB6q8

  • Lol, so now this is about how many kids are qualifying for free lunches and the demographics of Ben Gamla and Beachside??? I thought this was all about traffic safety?

    I love this exchange because it continues to expose a small group of people calling themselves civic activists relentlessly trying to shut down the school and saying it is in the name of traffic concerns.

    I could care less about whose baby these things were? In the real world every major project at some point was somebody’s baby. Who cares, Apple was Steve Jobs baby and he wasn’t a very nice person nor did people like his methods of building his company. However Apple has changed he world several times. There are thousands of examples of how great things was started by not likeable or nice people but what was created by them benefited the world or a community in a positive way.

    So what this is really about is a hatred against some of the people who drove these projects and the demographics of these charter schools. Frankly I don’t know the people who drove these projects nor do I care about them. What I care about is that I’m a Hollywood Resident and I want this city and community that I live in to thrive and have great options for my children and other families children to go to school to. If that is a self serving bias then yes you are correct that is my perspective.

    Once again your response proves my point on discrimination against a group of people you don’t like. That is fine everyone has their own opinion, just stop lying that this is about traffic and a residential crisis on that small section of the street.

    Ben Gamla student body is selected as a random lottery system that is audited live by an independent 3rd party. Anyone in the county can apply to the school and their applications are chosen randomly. It has students of all ethnicity. Is it representative of the exact demographic of the area? I don’t know but I assume there is probably a big disparity even though it is not a news flash that South Florida has a large Jewish population. Again I don’t live in the land of make believe – if a charter school publicly states it will teach the Hebrew language as part of its charter then it is probably going to get a higher proportion of Jewish families applying to get into that school and as such that will be a large part of the school’s demographic. That doesn’t mean families of other ethnicity don’t go to the school, THEY DO. That’s reality, Mr.or Ms Reality Check.

    The fact is I applied to a number of schools close to my house including Beachside. Also Avante Guarde already has an 18 month waiting list just to be entered into the lottery. I don’t even care about the Hebrew language part of the curriculum. Ben Gamla was the only place I could get my children into that had a good rating that was near my house. There are thousands of other families in Hollywood in the same situation for their children. It is a terribly stressful thing for families not to know if their child will be able to get into a public school with a good rating. In many cases we don’t have much choice at all where our kids can go. Yes we have a wide choice for number of schools we can apply to but for most of us we only get accepted to 1 or 2 if we are lucky. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of choice at all. And for public high school in District 2, there is NO Choice at all other than Ben Gamla. For me it is about Hollywood needing more good schools, period.

  • Who said we had to stick to traffic and safety. You don’t. I have no idea why you keep insisting that this has something to do with the school teaching Hebrew. I have a Jewish heritage and if I was a religious person I certainly would be welcome to participate in celebrating my Jewishness. It has nothing to do with that. There are people like you who want to try and make it about that. You and others do it by always bringing that up any time any one disagrees with anything that goes on related to Ben Gamla that could be interpreted as negative. Give it a rest. You are not being persecuted, and no one is trying to shut the schools down. Peter Deutsch knows there have to be reasonable rules concerning traffic patterns and safety measures. So why are you so bent out of shape by it? I am not the one calling people names and being intolerant. No that is what you are doing. Bullies? Please. I was at the Town Hall meeting a couple years ago on the City Hall steps. I heard and saw some of the rudeness, nastiest, and disrespectful behavior by Ben Gamla parents with their children soaking it all in. It was appalling. I have never seen that kind of behavior from residents towards Ben Gamla parents and students. It was uncivil. Your accusations are uncivil and you can’t separate the facts from your own opinions. Maybe you should try yoga. I hear it has a calming and balancing affect on the psyche.

  • Why can’t the parents use the public parking near city hall?

  • Peter Deutsch and the Ben Gamla Foundation have a drop off and pick up policy that does not include parking at city hall or on swales in the neighborhood. It was not being enforced. There has been considerable back and forth about the issue over the last few years and this has created some hard feelings. Mr. Deutsch and the Ben Gamla Foundation have agreed to work with the City to find a solution that works for both parents and children, city hall staff, local residents, and those who are trying to use 28th Ave, 26th Ave, and Hollywood Blvd to commute to work. Because the agreed to rules are being enforced, and most, but still not all parents, are following those rules – it has become apparent that the current Qing is not moving fast enough to keep parent traffic from backing up on 28th and thus is causing serious issues at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd and 28th, and on 28th and Van Buren. City staff and local residents do understand the need for parents to be able to drop their children off as quickly and safely as possible, and the need to alleviate the traffic congestion. The city staff is working with the Ben Gamla Principals and Mr Deustch on a plan to double the number of cars able to enter and drop off students on Van Buren. One viable option is to change Van Buren to one-way going east during drop off. If parents can get through the line more quickly, it should mean that parking and walking the children to the school door won’t make parking quicker or more convenient for the parents. It should also alleviate frustration levels and the parents cutting through the alley and parking lots. I’ve experienced dropping and picking up kids in a line that isn’t moving and trying to avoid getting in an accident in the process of drop off and pick up. So the goal is update the Qing to accommodate more vehicles and vehicles through twice as fast as it is going right now. As adults we all know changing how something is done is not always easy, but the hope is that with an updated Qing plan, it will make the change a positive thing for everyone; the neighbors to the school, commuting residents, and parents, and that we can move on to the more important things which includes focusing of course on providing a good education to our young. I hope this has been helpful.

  • Ok just got back from Yoga and feeling much better thank you for the advice Reality Check.

    However once again you are providing spin and misinformation in answering Hollywood Homeowner’s question. There was never a policy for Ben Gamla parents to not park at City Hall until this year and many believe that new policy and how it is currently implemented is a legal violation of civil rights which at some point the school may decide to revisit in court. Cooler heads prevailed and the school just wants to focus on education which I agree with.

    First of all as part of that new policy the city was supposed to lease at the school’s cost 10 parking spots for parents. Well somehow the city never lived up to that part of the policy. I guess Reality Check selectively decided to leave out that small detail.

    Second of all unfortunately a select few who I keep referring to on this discussion were able to get the city to implement what many believe is now an illegal policy at the start of this year’s school year. The reason they were successful is that it is true and unacceptable that a small amount parents did feel the rules don’t apply to them and they were parking in swales and in locations of city hall that weren’t even parking spots. I know I’ve personally lectured some parents who were doing this in the past as that does give ammo to others to complain about the school, it takes time away from our principle’s ability to run the school while addressing complaints, and it is just disrespectful to the community.

    However, the school and principle have had no tolerance whatsoever for this behavior and have threatened expulsion and encouraged towing of vehicles all this time and really that issue has been kept to a minimum. The issue while I agree unacceptable and disrespectful wasn’t rampant as many on this discussion would lead you to believe.

    The flip side to this that Reality Check leaves out is the part where they’ve convinced Hernandez to use city resources to video tape moms and their kids while peacefully walking their children to school. Anyone who doesn’t think that is disturbing and disgusting use of city resources is fooling themselves.

    I’ve been accused of playing the race card on this discussion chain but I encourage you to read through it again, take a walk down that street and look at the properties and traffic and decide for yourself what is really going on here.

    Additionally it doesn’t take much research on the internet to see many of the same names on this chain have spear headed a failed investigation against the school for violating separation of church and state laws, some have signed and are promoting petitions for Obama to cut off military aid to Israel and saying “Enough murder perpetrated with our weapons and our cash. Israel is the bully, not the victim”. People on this discussion chain start off talking about this is simple an issue of traffic safety but then start venturing off into statements about the schools elitist white student body and the amount of free lunches, making statements like go back to Emerald Hills, lying and misinforming about what is a charter school, misinforming about what is the real residential and commercial make up of the small section of the street the school is on and the list just goes on and on.

    Again it is really sad that this still exists but everything I’m saying is a fact and it is all right here for you to see in this discussion chain. I genuinely believe some on this discussion chain don’t even realize some of the things they are doing and saying are discriminatory and they aren’t bad people but history has shown there is still an inherent prejudice reality in the world. I refuse to be quiet and and let a small group of people bring unparalleled scrutiny against this school without bringing some attention and scrutiny onto themselves.

  • No matter how many times you say what YOU SAY IS A FACT doesn’t make it so. You have made numerous erroneous comments and assumptions. You’ve insulted people and continues to be argumentative. Perhaps you would like to keep fighting about the parking, and whatever else that bugs you. Most people don’t want to. They want an amicable solution. If it bothers you so much you can’t park at city hall, get an attorney and sue. Keep parking at city hall and Mr. Deutsch and Ben Gamla will end up with fines… yes, he agreed to that… if parents refuse to follow the rules the city has the authority to pursue fining the Ben Gamla Foundation. You can even watch where he and Alan Koslow agreed to it on video. Mr Koslow and Mr. Deutsch practically insisted they had no problem with that in order for the HS plans to go forward. It is a waste of time to try and be reasonable with unreasonable people. So for all the other people reading these comments, hopefully they gained some insight into why the issues exist and persist, and that in spite of people like you, there are those who do want to see the school peacefully coexist with the neighborhood, and compromise is how that is accomplished.

  • The only way I would ever spend time answering every charge you make, every misstatement of fact you have put out there is if you showed up at City Hall at citizens comments and made some of the same statements you are making here. I don’t fight phantoms. Go ahead. Have the guts to tell the commissioners what you say here. I won’t hold my breath on that one.

  • Hmm I think I need to go back to yoga. Well your right about 1 thing simply saying something is a fact doesn’t make it so. What makes if fact is to read and see the proof for yourself right here:

    Facts right in this discussion trail:

    The misinformation on what is a charter school
    Misinformation on the the traffic situation
    City resources being used to video tape moms and children
    Banning parents from using city hall public parking and the city not living up to its parking spot leasing commitment
    Suggestive innuendos on an elitist, white, rich student body
    Taunts on telling the parents to go back to Emerald Hills
    Hernandez publicly saying “We don’t want the school here, you don’t live here”
    Driving a failed investigation against the school for violation against separation against church and state
    Some of the people on this chain referring to Israel as murderous bullies on the internet.

    It’s not a fact because I say it is, its a fact because its all a matter of record and all right here for everyone to see.

  • As an employee at the preschool right next door to the new Ben Gamla high school. I have nothing against the school being in the city of Hollywood, however just maybe in a different location where there is more space.
    During the construction of the school, there was tons and tons of dust in the air (which I felt was not safe for the children, somedays I couldn’t even take them outside because of the issue) There were numerous heavy duty trucks roaming on the streets blocking our entrance and exit, leaving dangerous objects and nails in the street (multiple teachers had nails in the tires and had to get new ones because of that) on the sidewalks (where parents and children walk to school), even in our parking lot. Large crane trucks carrying big, heavy objects over our playground made me nervous every day. ONE DAY A CRANE TRUCK EVEN KNOCKED DOWN OUR GATE ON THE PLAYGROUND. We complained to the city multiple time, and even went to a town hall meeting, but of course nothing was resolved. I felt like it was very unsafe for the city to allow that big operation without the consideration of the little babies right next door.
    When the school opened in August it did create A LOT more traffic in the mornings on my way to work and when I leave at 2. The parents block the entrance and exit of our in-bound out-bound driveway. Being very rude not trying to let us in or out. Multiple parents of ours have complained about this issue as well. They have police direct traffic SOMETIMES, but there is really not enough room on the street for all 4 schools.
    My suggestion is to make it a one way during those hours or have a consistent traffic police there during drop off and pick up. And also let their parents over there know not to block any businesses or homes entrance or exit (which should be common sense).

  • Hollywood Resident , has all the facts once again from an employee who works at the Day Care School and has expressed what this monstrosity of a building called a school has done to the lives of little ones who are registered at the Day Care School.

    The Day Care School has given a perfect blow by blow description of the disrespect the founder of Ben Gamla has for the community and the entire City.
    (Peter Deutsch) He didn’t even consider the young children attending the Day Care School and the employees who work there. Such a pity that the founder blocked the daily sunshine for the young ones by surrounding their source of light that is necessary on a daily bases for good growth.

    The unskilled workers had no consideration for the businesses and property owners who live on that very street. This construction has made the neighborhood look like a slum.

    Residents in the immediate area have no privacy . Thanks to the founder of this monster building. (Peter Deutsch) Their lives have been disrupted by huge lighting surrounding their properties. He seeks such negative attention by destroying the lives of many.

    It has been pointed out numerous times that the City did not step forward and address the concerns for the businesses and home owners in the community.
    The Day Care School Employee has made note of that. Using their driveway and making it difficult for the parents to drop off and pick-up their little ones safely each day. Costing the parents, and workers, of the Day Care School the expense of having to buy new tires, because of sloppy work done by Peter Deutsch’s workers.

    Parents of the children who go to this outlandish constructed monstrosity.are rude, disrespectful, inconsiderate and do not care about the damage that has been done to a residential community. They are hostile toward the residents of the community and City with their nasty gestures toward them in passing. Their behavior is condoned by the founder (Peter Deutsch) and school staff.

    Realty Check, has made note of every lie you have posted and you like the founder, wish to continue to mumble jumble about this dreadful construction.

    Hollywood Resident exhibits the same denial as the founder Peter Deutsch. This construction is causing tremendous, immense concerns for the SAFETY of all. Residents, Children and Parents.

  • Realty Check I thank you and commend you for your posts and stating the facts about the difficulties Hollywood Resident has in comprehending the real issues that are caused by this construction of a High School in a residential neighborhood .

    Peter Deutsch , the founder of the structure continues to inconvenience the residents who are not able to reside comfortably in and on their property because of this construction that disrupts their lives. Building Basketball courts abutting residents property. Light Pollution surrounding their properties all night long. Loud noise with the changing of classes during period changes. Having students play in the backyard on property that was not approved for this activities . Peter Deutsch continues to ignore the plans that were approved and should be followed. Roof on the top of the building was not approved by the City concerning the kind of glass and bushes.

    Residents , can see what is going on, Peter Deutsch keeps stepping outside the Footprint . The entire City must step in and make this entire fiasco come to a positive conclusion for the taxpayers RESIDENTS.

  • As a fellow taxpayer in Hollywood, I would like to thank Helen Chervan and Shawn Atikinson for making Pete Hernadez seem, in comparison, like less of a fool.

    Isn’t there someother new job creating project for you to harrass? Shame on you.

    The three of you deserve each other, Hollywood however deserves better.

  • Wow, I have just read most of the comments on this subject. However, what brought me here is where I live and the uptick in traffic and congestion I have seen. Yes, I live in this neighborhood and every morning and every afternoon I have seen traffic and gridlock on South 26th Ave. during school days. I have had people park in front of my house, I have had drivers get pissed off that I put my dumpster out on garbage days, get out of their cars and move it so they can park in front of my house, and I have EVEN witnessed drivers parking in my driveway, blocking me in . So I can tell you all, this school is not a good thing for this neighborhood and I side with Peter Hernandez. He is right.
    It seems South Florida is growing too fast in many ways and this is just one example.

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