The kids aren’t going to like this headline, but school starts this Thursday

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 the schools.

Teachers reported back to school at the end of last week and are having planning sessions. Students will return this Thursday.

Dick said, “I know there’s a lot of good feelings by the staff and the administration. In fact, five of the schools have a new administration, new principals and a bunch of assistant principals up and down the Keys. So it is a lot of new beginnings going on for a lot of our schools and that gives the teachers and the staff a good feeling too. I know the feeling up and down the Keys is we’re going to have a great year. It’s important for us to know how many students we have. By the beginning of September, you’ll know the full student body.”

The school district’s website is a great resource for parents and families that have questions.

Dick said, “We’ll help residents, give them directions on what other municipality websites there are, and we will do whatever we can to help people that come into the community.”

The Monroe County School District is still down 28 teachers overall.

Dick said, “So if people are interested, please come on and sign up, call up the school district, call the individual school you’re interested in. If you think you would like to embark on a teaching career, then please give us a call. If you have a degree, even if you don’t have a teaching degree, we can work with that. It depends on what the degrees are, but we can work with you and get you started. Our starting salary is $61,500, so that’s a good start. We’re the highest in the state of Florida. But anyway, like I say it’s new beginnings. We’re going to have a great year. There’s not the big push now that not everybody should be going to college, especially when you see the salaries that you can make without going to college. So we push in those directions. We we’ve got a vocational type programs going and there was a time where you’d go yes, vocation was a big deal, than it was everybody should go to college and now the pendulum’s swinging back the other way. I’m not saying people shouldn’t go to college. If you’re destined to go to college, please go. Florida has a great college system. But there’s some good salaries and good lifestyles to be made by going into vocational and working, especially in in Florida.”

The requirements for teachers in Monroe County kind of depend on the subject.

Dick said, “In the vocational area, you can, if you were, let’s say an auto mechanic, you don’t have to have a college degree to become an auto mechanic and if somebody wants to teach auto mechanics, they will not have to have a degree. But if you’re going to teach math or English, you do need a degree, a bachelor’s degree, but we can work with you depending on what the field is. And then of course, there’s other jobs in the district. You can become an aid to get started and at least you have a salary. Then we can help you get the other educational courses to become a certified teacher. Also for retired military, there’s other concessions they made if you’ve been in the military, because there’s some training there that can work well with us. To me, that’s a good thing. I like to see the military, I like to see people come in and give more pushing patriotism to this country. To me, this is the greatest country in the world and I know, when I went to school in New York City, we cherished that, that this was the greatest country in the world. It still is, and I’d like to see more people believe that. Because I think it’s a fact. I’ve been in other countries around the world, not all of them, but in some of them and I can tell you, I wouldn’t want to live in any of them. I wouldn’t mind visiting a few of them, but this is the greatest country in the world.”

Dick has been a school board member since 2006.

He said, “Let me tell you why I got started, this is another thing. I never thought I would be on the school board, but back then that time my wife got involved and she became a teacher and I started to look at things about the school district and where’s all the money going? The district was getting a lot of money and the salaries for the teachers were only average with the state of Florida. So I got involved, I started going to board meetings and bringing my facts and figures and showing hey, what’s going on here? I pushed them a bit and then I said, well, I’m not getting anywhere and I got on the school board and that was the first thing I did. I said you guys have got to get more money to the staff and there was a bloated bureaucracy and some other things going on that were not correct with the funds. So my point of that is this is also part of a great country. I saw a problem and I said, well, let me get involved and get in there to fix it and I have. You can’t do that in a lot of places. I just hope that more people get involved in politics and not be so one-sided. Let’s do what’s right for this country, and let’s do what’s right for this community.”

The budgeting process has begun in the district.

Dick said, “We gave a nice increase to the staff again, because that’s the only way we can keep them and draw new ones. I’ve had a little questions on some of the things in the budget, but overall, the district is doing a very good job. I’m very satisfied with it. There’s always a creep of bureaucracy that tends to happen in government organizations. So I fight the creep of bureaucracy and I never let down on that fight. But I am satisfied in general with the budget, a couple of things I want to tweak here and there. I did say that as we have these openings in the school district, and if we don’t have them filled by Thursday, which I doubt we’d fill up those 28, I want to see some of those people that are in the district office and non-teaching positions to get out there and fill those positions at least until we hire somebody.”

There are three high schools with new principals who are alumni of the school they now serve.

Dick said, “That’s a good feeling. I think the staffs in all three of those high schools are very proud of that.”