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Superintendent's review of the year so far

The Year in Review

By Theresa Axford, Superintendent

The Monroe County School District has had an amazing year and a number of accomplishments to share.

Notably, the School District has an Interim Agreement with SPGL to build 90 units of Affordable Housing for teachers and staff on Trumbo Point in Key West. Although, there are still a number of hurdles to jump, it’s a great start. It has taken hours of work to get to this point. I am hopeful that we will have shovels in the ground sometime in 2023.

In a record breaking fashion, the School Board of Monroe County granted to each teacher a $5000 raise in November, (this was in addition to the raise that they received in August which amounted to approximately $2800 per teacher creating an overall total of $7800), all other employees received an additional $2600 in November and close to the same amount in August. I applaud the Board for their endeavor to help bridge the gap between the annual median income in Monroe County which is $100,500 and teacher starting salary of $56, 800. These efforts must continue if we are going to hire and retain qualified staff.

One of the best things going forward is that the District has a well-developed Strategic Plan. This took the last six months of 2022 to complete. The Plan was developed in hours of meetings with all stakeholders, many of whom were participating virtually to make sure that everyone had a voice in the process. It is a flight plan for the future and will insure our success. The completed plan will be housed on our website. The board and the community will receive regular updates on progress.

We have a new MCSD App. The app can be downloaded in the app store and is identified as “My MCSD”. It houses all the information that anyone needs to navigate the school system. Parents can check their students’ grades, schedules, attendance. They can access calendars for all school events and lunch schedules. Push notifications will notify them of any emergency issues. If they have students in two different schools, they can get all the information in the same app, just toggle to the other school. Student information is available to parents through their FOCUS log-in, however all other information about the district is available to community members as well.

Our focus on Environmental Education is another great plus for the district. We have developed a curriculum to educate all Pre-K -12 students on the importance of protection of our natural resources. The curriculum was developed with the help of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation but our partnerships extend to others as well i.e. the Coral Reef Restoration Foundation, NOAA, the National Marine Sanctuary, United Way, Reef Relief and many others. When our students understand their role of stewardship, we will succeed in endeavors to protect our coral reefs and near shore waters.

Another school enhancement occurred with the addition of an Elementary Wing at Sugarloaf School. Having spent 20 years of my career at that school, I know how much this new facility was needed. School Board took a tour on Dec. 6th and was thrilled to see the classrooms and other amenities that students and teachers will enjoy.

The Monroe Occupation and Vocational Experiences (MOVE) Program has expanded and continues to grow. With partnerships like Keys Energy Services, Keys Federal Credit Union, Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, Keys Auto Center, MCSO, A20 Architecture, Blown Away Hair Studio, A&B Marina and Spotswood Companies, district students are finding opportunities to learn skills that are important in the workplace. Because of M.O.V.E., businesses are training prospective members of their teams before they enter the workforce thus reducing the cost of new employee training and employee turnover.

Our sports programs were stellar throughout the year and achievements are too multiple to name here. Coverage of all our sports events has been masterfully done by Keys Weekly Sports Wrap-up Reporters Tracy and Sean McDonald and J.W. Cooke, Managing Editor and sports writer for the Keys Citizen. But I would like to thank each of our athletic directors and coaches for their relentless efforts to coordinate all of our teams. Students flourished in their programs.

Lastly, the class of 2022 received community scholarships in the amount of 2.6 million dollars. Hats off to our community for their support of students. I know that scholarship money comes from multiple fundraisers throughout the year and hours of dedicated work by volunteers. We are beyond grateful for this support. In addition, these same students received other scholarships totaling 4.5 million for a total of 7.1 million overall.

We enjoy our work in providing educational services for the students in Monroe County and the school district staff plans to actualize our new mission statement each day in the coming year. It is: Working together to inspire and bring excellence to every student every day.

Happy New Year!