It’s back to school next week in Monroe County

August 3 – Teachers in Monroe County went back to the classroom today to get ready for the new school year, which starts next Wednesday.

Theresa Axford, superintendent for the Monroe County School District, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about the upcoming year.

Axford said, “It’s an exciting time in the school districts.”

About 100 new teachers were introduced to Monroe County on Monday.

Axford said, “It’s quite a detailed thing being oriented to a school district.”

The electronic communication system is an important aspect of Monroe County, which includes everything from email to the informational computer systems in the district.

Monroe County also has a district-wide behavior management system called I Believe.

Axford said, “It really explains what appropriate behavior is and what the opposite is – what the negative behaviors are. So if you tell a child, be respectful, you have to explain to them what it means to be respectful.”

That includes speak in the proper tone, listen carefully to what is being said and then respond.

Axford said, “Those kinds of expectations have to be taught and that’s what I believe it’s all about. I’m very proud of that.”

In terms of security in the schools, there is a school resource officer in every school and in the high schools there are two.

Axford said, “They’re going to be doing checks to make sure that classroom doors are locked at all times. They’re going to give principals if not daily reports, reports at least two or three times a week because they’re going to just be going around and checking classroom doors. It’s really important that that occurs. I guess it might be more convenient to leave the doors open, but it’s not in terms of safety. Teachers are going to be notified that this is absolutely in effect every single day, every single period, every single area.”

Progressive discipline will be used if people don’t abide by the locked doors.

Single points of entry and fencing are included in all the schools in Monroe County.

The district is still looking for 21 teaching positions.

Axford said, “We’ve been working encouraging anybody in the community who has a degree, has any interest in education and supporting the students, telling them that we can support them with all the training that they need, provide a mentor teacher to them, help them go through the process of getting certified in Florida. We have open arms and are ready to really work with people if they’re interested. It’s just a national shortage. There were 7,500 openings in Florida, which is just incredible.”

The district also needs bus drivers.

Axford said, “We’re in a critical shortage here in the county and it’s not just here, it’s across the country as well. We are doing a great package for bus drivers that starts with a $2,000 signing bonus. New drivers start at $150 a day. Experienced drivers, $200 a day and the training that you need is provided at no cost. You’ve got to get a CDL license to drive a bus, but we provide that training at no cost.”

In terms of curriculum, the administrative team met last Friday and took a look at every school in the district and the data.

Axford said, “We looked at areas where we feel that students need support. Right now we’re waiting to see what happens because the system is changing.”

The Florida Standards Assessment is being dropped and a new system which features progress monitoring three times a year will replace it.

Axford said, “We look at each student as an individual and try to support them where they have needs and build their curriculum based on need. That’s what we’re doing.”

The grading system is kind of in limbo, waiting for the state of Florida to decide what will happen.

Axford said, “We do know that the last progress monitoring test of the year is going to be considered the high stakes test. We do know that each of those three progress monitoring windows that students are going to test for an hour and half in each window. That’s about what we know at this time. We’re looking forward to hearing how that’s going to progress.”

All information for the new school year can be found here: