Improving Our Schools, Roads And Access To Counseling For Teens

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By: Councilman Scott Singer Special to the Boca Newspaper

This Council Corner covers some important news you may have missed in December, including news on mental health services for teens, school facilities, and infrastructure improvements.

At our most recent meeting, the City Council supported a proposal I brought forward to provide Boca High and Spanish River High students with group counseling services from the Faulk Center for Counseling. Mental health and behavioral issues affect 1 in 5 children and teens, and the lack of counseling resources is one the biggest problems in society, and an issue for educators and Boca families. This program has existed in other places, but this initiative is the first partnership with a city to help provide it. I’m optimistic this pilot effort may enable the expansion of needed mental and emotional health resources for Boca’s students in other schools.

We are so fortunate in Boca Raton to have many professionals, volunteers, and organizations, like Boca Raton Promise, as one example, working to tackle an issue that needs more attention from all levels of government. Our first responders deal with multiple incidents every day dealing with mental health and addiction-related issues, and I’ll keep working for more solutions like this.  They can save lives.

Speaking of schools, the news has caught up to an issue I’ve been working on for some time – expanding facilities for Boca Raton’s public schools. At our most recent meeting, School District representatives briefed the City Council on existing plans for the expansion by 2020 of Spanish River High and rebuilding of two elementary schools, all to add more than 1,200 student seats in Boca Raton. I proposed that the City seize an opportunity to place in Boca Raton a new elementary school that the district has budgeted but not sited (called 05-C). My proposal – take some parcels not currently planned for development near Don Estridge Middle School to create a K-8 high-tech campus. I’m continuing to work with our school board representative, Frank Barbieri, and my colleagues and staff on this and other possibilities.

A bit more background – last summer, I volunteered to join the School District’s Sales Surtax Oversight Committee, which voted recently to include the rebuilding of two of Boca’s elementary schools among the first seven in Palm Beach County. With 39 cities and many unincorporated areas in the county, getting 2 of 7 for just our city is a good start. I also facilitated more discussion about ways to expand recreation facilities and minimize neighborhood traffic for the rebuilding plans, which may be improved by the possibility of our grabbing the opportunity for a new elementary school. The school district will be back to us in the coming weeks. Some news sources and blogs aren’t telling you the whole story on this, so I ask that you share the news of these efforts and stay in touch for updates.  Have any thoughts? Please get in touch with me at ssinger@myboca.us!

Finally, our city’s budget includes millions of dollars for roadway improvements, all while keeping our millage rate the lowest of any full-service city in Palm Beach County.  I’m pleased to share that we recently improved road resurfacing and landscape maintenance for nearly a dozen neighborhoods and sections of Boca Raton. Over a period of several years, nearly every major city thoroughfare will see some improvements. If you want any specifics on when you might see something on your street, please contact me. My email is above and I’m on all social media platforms at @ScottSingerUSA!

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy, and safe 2018!