Name: Rick Murphy
Family: I have three daughters that include Crystal Murphy Centeno who lives and owns a hair salon called Style House in Parrish. My daughter Christina lives and works in California. My daughter Tammy lives and works in Auburndale Florida. I have a granddaughter Nadia who is a student at Parrish Community High School. My grandson Jalen graduated from Palmetto High School in 2019. I am the 12th child which includes 5 brothers and 6 sisters born and raised in Florida.
I worked in business management after high school and continued my education at Palm Beach State College pursuing a business degree. I decided to get involved with my community volunteering in youth sports and many community service projects. I have worked with children in livestock organizations that include 4H, county fairs and Future Farmers of America as an alumnus. I have served in community civic groups such as Jaycees, United Way, Elks, Kiwanis, and various chambers of commerce. In Manatee County I have volunteered with Take Stock in Children and scholarship mentoring. I have attended Bayside Church with my family and helped with feeding the homeless during the holidays. I was raised in the Assembly of God church and like to attend various denominations worship services and fellowship. I also worked at the Home Depot and co-taught ladies do it yourself classes as one of the instructors at the Home Depot on University Blvd. I served four years as Chairman for Take Stock in Children in Hendry County. I worked with the late Barbara Bush Foundation “Celebration of Reading Program” by supporting literacy in schools and for adults during my tenure as Superintendent from 2008-2012.
I was elected to serve on the Hendry County School Board from 1994-2008. While serving on the school board, I decided to change careers and become a teacher. I went back to school at night and graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree. I left business in 2005 to teach middle school grades 6th-8th in Lake Placid Florida where I taught 6th-8th grades. In 2008 I was elected Superintendent of Hendry County Schools serving from 2008-2012 during the great recession. During my Superintendency I received continuous professional development which included Chief Operating Officer (CEO) and leadership training for Florida school district superintendents as a member of the Florida Association District School Superintendents. I served on the South West Florida Workforce Board of Directors providing job training for adults. I was instrumental in providing funding for high school Destination Graduation coaches for students who were struggling in school to graduate (2008-2012). I also served on the Heartland Educational Consortium Board of Directors( www.heartland.org) with superintendents from Desoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, and Okeechobee counties(www.heartland.org . The consortium provided six county school districts with continuous professional development training, safe schools, and other education program opportunities through grant application funding. The consortium teamed up with the Florida Learns grant that provided high school students internships with the University of Florida, Florida State, and Florida Gulf Coast University working with Mote Marine and others in summer programs. It was also the central location for our Florida Diagnostic & Learning (FDLRS) that provided diagnostic, instructional and technology support services for district exceptional student education (ESE) programs and families of students with disabilities funded through federal and state tax dollars. FDLRS provided training for teachers, parents and assistive technology for students to adapt to their disability for learning. I also served as a board member for the Alliance of Educational Leaders (www.allianceofeducationalleaders.org) in south west Florida which consisted of superintendents from Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Lee and Hendry counties and the Presidents of Florida Gulf Coast University, Northwestern State, Hodges colleges and Nova universities. The Alliance worked together developing K-20 educational programs working with businesses, chamber of commerce’s and manufacturing companies to prepare the future workforce of the region.
I have been a member of the Florida Educational Negotiators (www.fifen.org) contract negotiations, Florida Organization of Instructional Leaders (www.foilflorida.com), Florida School Board Association (www.fsba.org), Florida Association of District School Superintendents and currently Florida Association of School Administrators (www.fadss.org) . During my Superintendency I also worked in human resources, certification, transportation, maintenance, contract negotiations, Title 1 and other areas of the district operations.
In January of 2013 I was recruited to be an assistant principal at South Tech Academy high school. in Palm Beach County which is an “A” rated academic high school and provides students with industry certifications in 13 different career certification academies. The career certification academies included nursing, computer technology, commercial art, business, film production, culinary, veterinary 1,2,3, cosmetology, construction, music, automotive ASE certification, marine, autobody, motorcycle maintenance and other careers. While at South Tech, I assisted in the planning and opening of the new South Tech Preparatory Academy Middle School with STEAM programs. I also assisted the Chief Operating officer in planning the new South Tech Schools Adult Technical College to offer adult courses for careers in the workforce and preparing military veterans to return to the workforce with job training. The South Tech Schools Adult Technical College will open this fall in replacement of the original adult school program. The long-range goal was for South Tech Schools to become its own Local Education Agency (LEA) which has come to fruition. I also worked closely with the Palm Beach County School Police on school security, active shooter training, student counseling and discipline procedures. I have worked with the Superintendent of Broward County Rob Runcie which is the home of Parkland High School. I have attended a fundraising concert at Florida Atlantic University for the Parkland students’ families and met some of those parents and students. I came to Manatee County full-time in 2014 be with my daughter and grandchildren. I taught at King Middle (6th-8th) in 2014 and at Harllee Middle (6th-8th) in 2015.
In 2016 I decided to substitute in various Elementary, middle, and high schools to study the overall district schools. I have also worked as a paraprofessional at Tillman Elementary, assisting teachers in instruction doing pull outs and small group instruction. In Manatee county I have been a mentor with the Take Stock In Children Foundation. In the past before COVID19 I attended Bay Side Church with my family and helped with feeding the homeless during the holidays. Since that time, I have continued my Educational Leadership program with Florida Atlantic University and have studied school districts in Florida and California to compare different organizations.
Why are you running for office?
I am running because I have always been a servant leader and believe my experience will provide organizational leadership skills to the district while supporting student achievement, the administration, teachers, schools and all employees in their work as a team. In a place that needs a change I want to make a difference. Our students deserve an excellent education and teachers deserve the utmost respect with the resources to teach our students. I am passionate about education and by utilizing my experience I would be honored to help make a difference. All employees deserve to be heard and appreciated. 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. I have worked in business management, as a substitute teacher, paraprofessional, classroom teacher in Manatee and Highlands County and school administration in Palm Beach county. I was elected to serve on the Hendry county school board for 14 years and superintendent for 4 years during the great recession. I have worked in public schools and in a public converted charter school. I understand the jobs of the organization and what is needed to support their work. My experience in business, as a teacher, assistant principal, former school board member and as a superintendent will allow me to understand the responsibilities of district employees, school board members and the superintendent. I also have worked in school bus transportation, maintenance and overseen the construction of new schools working with contractors, architects, and construction management companies. I will work diligently to build a proactive, close, positive, communicative, collaborative, consensus building, 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. I am concerned about the reopening of schools this year and the safety of our students and employees with COVID-19 virus growing in cases. I want to make sure our students and employees are safe by providing additional support staff, school resource officers and secure school buildings. I want to make sure the school board members and the administration are transparent with the district finances; budget and to make sure the money follows the child.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities during your term?
To provide safe and clean schools, classrooms, cafeterias, buses, and facilities. To promote a safe learning environment for all students and a safe working environment for employees. Providing parents with options that are best for their children such as traditional school 5 days a week, district online classes, Florida Virtual online, home school and high school dual enrollment classes with colleges. School choice options with additional career technical academies in all middle and high schools. Supporting teachers with the resources needed for classroom instruction, individual professional development, and new parent programs to support teachers as an extension of the classroom. Providing the best education opportunities possible to prepare all students with the skills necessary for success in college and the workforce. Promoting voluntary pre -kindergarten (VPK) programs that will support early childhood learning and prepare students for kindergarten. While serving as superintendent of schools in Florida myself and 66 county superintendents fought to have the legislature fully fund voluntary pre-kindergarten the entire school year instead only two months in the summer. Providing funding and support for closing the achievement gap for students. The current percentage of students in Manatee county that are reading on grade level by 3rd grade is 53 percent which means 47 percent are not reading on grade level. Improving the downward trend of high graduates from 85.4 percent in 2017-2018 to 83.2 percent in 2018-19.
This is a (2.2) percent decline of graduating students in Manatee county compared to the State of Florida upward trend from (86.1) percent in 2017-2018 to (86.9) percent in 2018-2019 of high school graduating seniors.
Prioritizing funding and budgeting to provide each school with the resources needed for students and teachers. Providing a uniformed law enforcement officer in every school. Prioritize funding to secure campuses and to provide additional counseling for students affected by the pandemic, loss of a family member and other life events. Budget and district expenditures oversight utilizing my prior Florida school board member experience of 14 years and my 4 years of Florida superintendent experience in budget the building process, oversight, and the administering of school district budgets. Creating a 2-year budget forecasting and building process based on trends, growth, and economic forecasts. Providing good stewardship and transparency of taxpayer’s money while spending it wisely and providing fair compensation for all employees. Oversight of expenditures and transparency of the local 2 mill referendum funding approved by the voters in 2018. Budgeting to effectively plan on the reduction of local school board taxes levied in the future.
To provide the best overall representation and open communication as an elected public servant to the residents of Manatee county. I will work diligently to build a proactive, positive, collaborative and consensus building school board team with high impact governance empowering the strategies that support the entire school district for continued success.
What is your position on the following?
Florida’s choice programs include charter school choices for parents and their children. Public charter schools such as Rowlett Elementary and Middle schools, Manatee School of the Arts and other successful schools can offer additional enrichment programs such as career academies including music, arts, dance, busines and more for students. Charter schools operate and are accountable to the Manatee county school board and the Florida Department of Education guidelines. They are required to assess student’s achievement with state testing just like all district schools. Charter schools operate under the oversight of their own governing board who are accountable to the Manatee school board and the Florida Department of Education. I have worked in public converted charter schools that are successful.
The state’s recently expanded voucher-scholarship program:
The state’s voucher-scholarship program was created to provide parents and their children additional choices. John M. McKay scholarships were the first in the nation enacted in 1999 and expanded in 2000 by the Florida Legislature for students with special needs who qualify. It is an option for parents to send their child to a school who they feel can provides services for their special needs child when the districts may not have the ability to provide services.
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship was enacted in 2001 to serve students from low income families. Florida provides a corporate tax credit on corporate income taxes and insurance premium taxes for donations to scholarship funding organizations and non-profits that provide scholarships for low-income students and children in foster care and offer funds for transportation to public schools outside the child’s district. Businesses get a dollar for dollar credit for their contributions with a maximum of $559 million.
The Florida Hope Scholarship program was enacted in 2018 to fund scholarships for students who were victims of bullying and physical attacks at their original school. These students may also transfer to another or neighboring school district to attend school. These students may have suffered traumatic situations and will have a fresh start in the school of their choice.
The Florida Gardiner scholarship program is funded by the state allows students with special needs an opportunity to receive an education savings account administered by an approved scholarship funding organization. Parents can use the funds to pay for a variety of educational services, including private school tuition, tutoring, online education, home education, curriculum, therapy, and postsecondary educational services in Florida.
The Florida Family empowerment scholarship program was launched in 2019 to alleviate the waitlist on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program which allows public school students from low- and middle-income families to receive vouchers to attend private schools of their choice.
My position is the state has the authority by law to offer these programs. The school board and district have no say if these students qualify and it is the state’s responsibility to hold the school’s students enroll in accountable. These programs offer students choices to be successful when they may be struggling in their original school. They also offer parents a choice to send their children to another school if the student’s original school is a failing school and there are no other schools in the district to accommodate student’s needs.
Do you feel district leadership is taking the district in the right direction? Why or why not?
The district leadership includes the current school board members, superintendent, and district staff. I believe our teachers and all employees are working harder than ever and need continued support from the administration and school board members. These are challenging times with the COVID19 pandemic and all requirements that will change the traditional school operations. I believe the district can always do a better job supporting schools with their needs and all employees deserve to be heard, valued, and appreciated.
Do you feel single-member representation is working well for the school board races?
The local referendum was passed and approved by the voters in 2018 for single school board member district elections to begin 2020. However, because of a technical error according to the supervisor of elections office that will not begin until 2022 and has already caused confusion for some voters. Single member district elections will be more competitive and allow more candidates the opportunity to participate in the election process. Regardless if school board members are elected county wide or in individual districts, they should be accountable and make decisions for what is best for the education of all students, employees, and the residents of the entire county.
What would you recommend helping Manatee public schools attract the most qualified teachers?
Competitive salaries and benefits, retention incentives for veterans, new and highly effective teachers. Professional development opportunities for current and new teachers. Recruiting from Florida Universities and nationally informing teachers of the opportunities in Manatee county. Supporting teachers in the classroom, valuing their creativity in instruction, mentoring new teachers, and providing the resources needed for the classroom.
What is your position on school impact fees?
Impact fees are set by the Manatee County Commissioners who determine the amount and percentage imposed. Impact fees are necessary for infrastructure in the county which include drainage and roads for schools. Impact fees are not collected until the property owners are given a certificate of occupancy by the county. The school board then receives its share of impact fees funds.
Where do you stand on term limits for school board members?
The local voters should determine how long a school board member should serve as an elected official representing the residents of the county. Serving as a school board member is learning process which takes time to be an effective and accountable school board member. The veteran school board members provide the leadership on the board while new board members are learning. School board members are elected on even and odd years. Term limits require 60 % of the Florida voters to impose.