- December 25, 2013
Name: Richard A. Rick Murphy
Occupation: Professional clinical educator/teacher
Family: Three children and two grandchildren
Education: AA degree from Palm Beach Community College in business administration; bachelors degree in organizational leadership management and a minor in education from Palm Beach Atlantic University (2001); and masters degree in educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University
Elected government experience: Hendry County School Board member (1994-2008); and Hendry County superintendent (2008-2012)
Why are you running for this position?
I am running because I have always been a servant leader and believe my experience will provide organizational leadership skills to the district on the school board while supporting student achievement, the administration, teachers, schools and all employees in their work as a team. I believe my experience, knowledge and interpersonal skills will help unify the board in their leadership roles and responsibilities as elected public servants to work together for the common good of all people and support all employees, students, parents and community stakeholders.
What uniquely qualifies you for this position?
I understand the jobs of the organization and what is needed to support their work. My experience as a teacher in Highlands and Manatee County, school administration in Palm Beach County, school board member and superintendent in Hendry County allow me to understand the instructional and leadership roles of the organization. I have worked with every department in a school district and understand their roles and responsibilities in supporting the district operations as valuable team members of the district. I also understand the roles, responsibilities and authority of a school board member and superintendent. I have worked in business management, transportation, as a classroom teacher, school and district administrator, school board member, superintendent, workforce development and have worked in public and public converted charter schools. I am a servant leader and will work diligently to build a proactive, close, communicative, cooperative and positive school board and superintendent partnership as a cohesive team with high-impact governance empowering the strategies that support the entire organization for continued success and financial prudence. I believe by using my experience and current leadership skills will provide a positive change in direction on the board and support to the district employees and provide personable representation to the parents and all community stakeholders.
What do you see as the three biggest challenge facing the district and how do you propose to address them?
What ideas do you have for improving the district's operations?
To provide more opportunities for all employees to have input in the decision-making process by utilizing department and district surveys. To provide an end-of-year survey to parents and students that will provide the district valuable feedback and continuous improvement. Recommending the district request an organizational survey provided by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents consultants and the grant funded. The survey will include the entire district with all employee’s input and suggestions for improving schools, departments, operations and communication. The survey will provide valuable feedback to the school board and incoming superintendent and discussed in a public board meeting. The school board and district shall review the results and recommendations of the FADSS survey team to implement as part of the strategic plan of the district.
How and when do you feel the board should move forward with the superintendent search?
I would recommend the board use the services of the Florida School Board Association and Florida Association of District Superintendents to conduct a state and national search. I would allow internal candidates to apply, except the interim superintendent which the board has agreed not to allow the interim to apply. The search should begin when the election of new school board members has been determined in November and board members are sworn into office.
Do you think the school board should consider in-house candidates for the superintendent post. Why or why not?
Local candidates can apply as part of the state and national search process. However, in the last superintendent selection and the current process the school board has voted by majority to not allow the interim superintendent to apply, which was agreed on by the school board and the prior and current interim superintendents who were deputy superintendents in the district. The reason for this was to not discourage other local and national applicants from applying with the interim having an advantage in the selection.
What is your opinion of the school district’s plan to ultimately set up an in-house police force, both short and long-term?
I don’t believe the school board has decided to implement a district school police even though there has been some discussion. Some school districts have successfully operated a district school police. The Palm Beach County and Pinellas County school districts are two examples. However, the startup costs are very expensive, and the hiring of personnel is even harder today with the new law requiring more uniformed law enforcement officers in schools.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act’s requirement for a safety school officer in every school can be satisfied by appointing any combination of a school resource officer, a school safety officer or school guardian. The Act created the Guardian Program, which allows for arming school employees.
I do not support arming school employees or administrators because I believe it’s best to provide uniformed law enforcement officers to protect our students, employees, school volunteers and allow teachers to teach and students to learn in a safe environment. The Guardian program is a temporary possible solution, but they will not have arresting authority and a direct channel to the sheriff and city police departments. I have had a long-time relationship with the Palm Beach School Police and its administration. While working in school administration in Palm Beach county I continued that relationship and learned more about school police operations and active shooter situations. In my past superintendent experience, I worked directly with the sheriff, city officials and school board in the funding process.
My position on how to fulfill the requirement of increased school safety and dealing with the costs associated with it.
First and foremost, to budget funding to provide uniform law enforcement for every school by utilizing legislative funding, reviewing current budgets and projected revenues, Federal Cops Grant Funds and working with the legislature to fully fund their mandate for the act. Providing annual training for all employees on school security and active shooter situations. Planning and implementing training for students in active shooter situations in addition to originally practiced lock-down drills and procedures. Providing multiple ways (apps) for students to report possible situations to teachers, law enforcement and school officials. Providing counseling and interventions for students being bullied and those bullying with parent involvement, law enforcement and discipline procedures. Continuous counseling and monitoring of student’s behavior in school and at home. Working with county mental health counseling. Working in partnerships with the county commission, sheriff, and city commissioners to continue their funding and pooling our resources to provide safe schools and campuses. Securing campuses utilizing legislative funding and current capital outlay funding from local property owner’s taxes. School tax is levied and required by law for restoration, expansion and improving current school buildings, perimeter fencing, surveillance camera systems and secured entrances. Securing schools to protect students, employees, volunteers in school and public events. I will prioritize funding for the newest and most effective technology including drones with the ability to monitor the school campus during school and school public events. I would work with law enforcement to provide advanced technology including drones to monitor schools and hidden areas security cameras can’t cover. The use of drones in active shooter situations increases the speed for law enforcement to go directly to the shooter and can save lives including response teams. Schools and school districts are required by law to have updated school security plans which address active shooter and emergency situations. The superintendent and school board are required by law to review and approve individual school plans and district response plans. The plans are required by law to be approved by the Florida commissioner of education and the department of education. In my prior experience the school and district security- response plans included input and coordinated efforts with other government agencies including law enforcement, emergency response teams, first responders, healthcare and mental health providers. The long-term challenge in providing adequate school security will be recruiting trained and certified personnel. My goal would be to support expansion of criminal justice courses at Manatee Technical College and adding new criminal justice and 911 telecommunications courses in high schools to prepare students for future careers in law enforcement and security careers. In my prior administration, we started criminal justice classes and expanded programs by adding 911 telecommunications classes all with certification.
What other issues do you see as important for the district to address over the next three years and what ideas do you have about them?
The growth in the eastern part of the county and the need for new schools will take long-range budgeting with discipline in future spending by the school board and district. The school board approved the construction of the new high school in Parrish after the one cent sales tax referendum was passed. The district receives one half of the cent passed and the city and county governments receive the other half. The projected revenue for the school district is estimated to be about $37 million a year of new money for the district. The school board and district started the process of deciding how to name the school with some public input. The process could have been promoted more to allow additional input. The school board approved naming the school North River High School. I suggested other names along with other people during this time.
If I’m elected by the residents to serve on the school board, I will make a motion to revisit the original motion and if most of the school board agree there will be more input from the public. However, my recommendation will be to change the name to Parrish Community High School because it is in Parrish. The current school zone plan approved by the school board includes students coming from Lakewood Ranch, Braden River and other areas. The school choice program allows students to attend different schools if seats are available. The Parrish, Ellenton and Duette communities deserve to have a high school that will provide courses for students in academics and career-vocational academies that will prepare them for jobs and future. The school will also offer automotive tech, allied nursing, robotics and TV broadcasting.
This will be a start but there needs to be expansion of other career academies including criminal justice and 911 Telecommunications, which provide students career pathways in law enforcement and can supply the future need for school resource officers, law enforcement, business and airport security officers. Additional career academy programs that I would suggest include business management, commercial arts, culinary arts, customer service and business skills, information technology, marine technology, music and sound production, digital film and broadcast and veterinary assisting, dental and medical assisting where students can be certified to go to work. The agriculture program could include the new plant bio-tech academy.
The high school could offer adult evening programs for the workforce needs and classes to empower parents with new skills to support their children at home and the teachers in the classroom. The new common core math and language arts are difficult for students and some parents to understand that want to work with their children. I would like the district to expand these programs in other high schools.
The Manatee Technical College provides some great programs and opportunities for students and adults. The three campuses are not in the areas of Parrish, Ellenton, Palmetto or Duette where the growth is in the county. I believe the Parrish Community High School could utilize its facilities to offer adult programs at night for basic education, adult classes and new job skills. The district could implement new job internship programs with future job placement opportunities by building new community and business partnerships that would support students.
The State College of Florida will building a new campus on Erie Road to support the needs of the Parrish community and the growth area east of I-75 and north of the Manatee River. The current plan is for the campus to offer general education classes for an AA degree as well as workforce degrees and certificates that will benefit students and employers in the region. The campus will offer high school students a dual enrollment opportunity for college class credits while in their 10-12 grade years.
In the past I have worked with colleges and universities to plan and build these opportunities in southwest Florida as a regional partnership and will make that a priority in Manatee county to provide all students and adults opportunities.
Create and revise a health care and benefits committee that includes district employees, union representatives, human resource director, benefits director, teacher representatives, all school district department employee representatives, insurance consultant and local healthcare professionals. The committee will review the past and current health care cost trends to prepare for the school board to review in a public workshop and discuss future options to reduce healthcare costs to the district and employees.
Evaluate the school district’s budget and budgeting process.
The school district’s budget continues to increase. The budget is made up of about 78% salaries and benefits which include health, dental, eyecare, life insurance and retirement costs for all district employees. The roughly 22% consists of capital outlay expenditures that includes costs for new school buses, fuel, building maintenance and overall operation costs. The revenue comes from the Florida Legislature base student allocation funding for each enrolled student K-12, school security, school busing enrollment received over the 2-mile limit, categorical funding for textbooks, technology, Federal Funding for Exceptional Student Education, grants and Title 1-4. The referendum for additional one mill additional property tax increase which barely passed on a low-key election Manatee county is estimated to generate $37,289,392.32. The Florida law originally allowed school boards to levy a 2-mill property tax and later the legislature reduced the local mill to 1.50 and used the .50 mill they took away from school boards to fund other state budget items. The new local referendum allows the school board to levy a total 2.5 mill property tax that includes the original 1.5 mill and the 1.0 mill from the new referendum which is an increase for all property owners residential and commercial. The school board by law must levy the required local effort (RLE) which is 4.0830 mill that amounts to $152,252,588.82 to receive additional state funding. The school board has the authority to determine and levy or not levy the discretionary operating additional millage which is (.748) mill and totals $27, 892,465.45 this year. The one cent sales tax increase approved by local referendum is collected by the tax collector and distributed to the school board. The school board needs to monitor spending wisely and reduce the annual budget by being more cost effective based on the revenue received. The voters have given the school board the opportunity to rebuild the district fund balance which is a minimum of 3% of the total budget. Manatee County is continuing to grow, and more homes and commercial properties are on the tax roll. With the projected enrollment decreasing there will be less money received from the legislature in the coming year. Projecting enrollment is an educated guess and can be costly at the end of the year. All school board employees are important and should be compensated especially with the increased cost of living and health premiums. The budgeting process has now begun and the final budget hearing for the school board approval is September 4th. The school board represents the taxpayers and all residents as the public servants. One of the important roles of the school board is being good stewards of taxpayer’s money. The school board controls the funding and provides oversight of the school district budget. The superintendent and chief financial officer recommend expenditures to the school board for approval. The approval of the one cent sales tax and one mill referendum provided for funding of new schools. The construction management process is the best way to build because it gives the district flexibility on building specifications and making changes during the project. When there are overruns on building costs such as the recent 8 million increased cost of materials by the new U.S. tariffs for the new North River High School, the board had the flexibility discus options and review the project specifications and possibly make changes to stay within the project budget but didn’t discuss it or take the opportunity. My suggestion would have been to pull the 8-million-dollar item from the consent agenda and allow the school board and construction management company to have a discussion or schedule a workshop to review the project. Now the $8 million overrun in the project becomes a district budget adjustment and hole to fill.
New programs for students with community mentors to support their learning and provide career direction.