School District once again looks at decentralizing administration

skinney@keynoter.comDecember 14, 2013 

Continuing a years-long discussion about decentralizing the Monroe County School District administration from Key West, the School Board on Tuesday got a first look at a long-term facilities plan analysis from consultant Fran Pickett.

Pickett, a former Brevard County School Board member, works as a facilities planning consultant for school systems. Her hour-long presentation at Coral Shores High School focused on "ancillary facilities not used for instructional purposes."

The vast majority of ancillary space -- maintenance buildings, the administrative office and vacant buildings is in Key West. They're the A.J. Henriquez Administrative Building on Trumbo Road, part of Glynn Archer Elementary School, the Ruth Hargrove Building, the old May Sands School and the Reynolds School.

"This is the beginning of an ongoing evaluation we're doing," Superintendent Mark Porter told the board, asking for "good conversation about our look ahead and what we might need."

The district's Informational Technology Department has already moved from downtown Key West and is now housed at the new Horace O'Bryant Middle School.

The timing of the facilities study is based on the June 30 deadline for the district's five-year educational plant survey, a capital analysis submitted twice a decade to the Florida Department of Education for oversight purposes.

Pickett asked board members to consider "who needs to be close to whom," prompting board member Ed Davidson, a proponent of spreading out administrators, to add, "Right now the only people that can work for the district are who live in Key West or close to it."

He said that prevents the district from tapping a "vast" talent pool outside Key West.

The last time decentralization came up was under former Superintendent Jesus Jara, Porter's predecessor. Jara went so far as to work out of an office in Marathon High School twice a week.

In what she called an "out-of-the-box solution," Pickett threw out a scenario that would rebuild Gerald Adams Elementary on Stock Island. "Then you could carve out part of it to make it district administration," constructing a space at Gerald Adams to replace the Trumbo building.

"If you're going to spend money on a building and you'd rather it be a school," she said, "what if when you do that school you also provide for ancillary?"

"It moves district administration out of Old Key West but still pretty much keeps it in Key West," Pickett said.

The board has long looked at getting rid of its prime Trumbo waterfront site, selling it to private developers, but that's not gone far.

Board member John Dick stressed that the discussion is "very preliminary. We need a lot more information before we can make any kind of plan."

Not including charter schools, in terms of instruction space, the district has five Lower Keys schools servicing 4,004 students in 799,992 square feet. Between Sugarloaf and Marathon there are two schools for 1,172 students covering 324,352 square feet. There are three Upper Keys schools with 2,092 students on 507,772 square feet.

KeysNet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service