Florida lawmakers to audit Miami-Dade district and oversee land purchases

Taking an extraordinary role in a local school district's finances, state lawmakers say they will appoint a three-member oversight board that will have final say over any land purchases by Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Outraged that the school system has overpaid as much as $7 million for land over the past three years, lawmakers also decided to post a state auditor at district headquarters for one year to review every penny the district spends.

Related stories: The Miami-Dade school district is scrambling to recoup $800,000 it spent on a commercial nursery that sits on a protected Indian burial ground. District officials began talks about their "legal remedies," saying they were deceived when they bought the land. The former Sandman Nursery was designated a Tequesta Indian burial site in 1995. Under state law, all ancient remains on the property must be spared from development....Miami-Dade school administrators concocted a phantom educational program to justify buying a dilapidated commercial plant nursery, school records show. The deal to purchase the former Sandman Nursery was pushed by a veteran School Board member and a powerful political lobbyist. Now school planners say they have no use for the nursery--except as maybe a parking lot for school buses.

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