Monroe County School District slips a grade, but work will be done to change that

July 11 – With school ratings from the state of Florida coming out recently, Monroe County School District was obviously included in the list.

The ratings haven’t been released for the last two years due to the pandemic.

John Dick, board member from the Monroe County School District, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about those grades from the state. 

In the Monroe County School District, five of the schools had an A, seven of the schools had a B and three of the schools had a C.

The overall district grade has slipped to a B.

Dick said, “On the other side of the coin, our graduation rate is above 90 percent, which that to me is very, very good. Of course, we’d love to have it at 100 percent, but we’ve progressed fairly well in that direction. We have to work on why we dropped to a B.”

The schools that were given a C were Horace O’Bryant, Gerald Adams Elementary School and Poinciana Elementary School.

Dick said, “We want to do better. I’ll tell you that right out. We want to do better and we will. I did look over the whole state and in the state on a district-wide basis, most of the districts, the vast majority of them, there are 67 districts, so the vast majority of them held whatever grade they had and then about 25 of them went down a grade, but no district improved a grade. Nobody went from a B to an A or a C to a B. Everybody either stayed the same or fell back. We’re going to do everything we can to get back to be an A district and work on our C schools and B schools, too. We’d love to have every school be an A, but it’s tough. There’s a lot involved. We’re satisfied, but we want to do better.”

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM added, “Overall, it’s a very dedicated administration, very dedicated teachers and staff and I’m sure that they will focus on making sure we continue to improve.”

The starting salary for teachers in Monroe County is $51,800 and the district is looking for a variety of positions, including non-teaching positions, like bus drivers, food service workers, maintenance and aids in the classroom.

Listeners were reminded of the referendum on the ballot on August 23, asking the voters to agree to take a half mil of the capital funding and add it to the general fund. It won’t change anyone’s tax bill. It will just change where the money is used.

Dick explained, “School boards cannot just raise taxes. They have to go to the voters, so even a switch in where we were going to use the money had to be approved by the voters. I know that at the point we’re at now, it would be devastating if it didn’t get approved because it’s at $10,000 worth of salary for every one of our teachers, so you can imagine what would happen if salaries were dropped by $10,000. It is extremely important to us and it is important to the community because the schools are a big part of this community and a drastic challenge to them affects the whole community.”

The state of Florida recently passed the Parental Rights in Education bill and the Monroe County School District has pretty much been in line with state mandates all along.

Dick said, “Let me tell you some of the good things what they wanted us to be involved in. First of all, they’re requiring that seniors have a half a credit worth of understanding the financial aspects of living.”

That includes how to balance a checkbook, what debt really means, and a little bit of patriotism for America.

Dick said, “We have some good things. We have some bad things, but let’s be practical about it. The other part that I really, really enjoy to see that we have to do, they want us to get veterans into the classroom and talk about veterans and what veterans have done for this country. I will be gladly assisting that and getting veterans into all the classrooms. It’s a great ambassador to show what this country is really all about.”