MCT REGIONAL NEWS
Florida Keys Keynoter, Marathon
Aug. 04—Mark Porter, the first-ever Florida Keys superintendent to be hired by the Monroe County School Board rather than elected by voters, is settling into his office after a 1,950-mile cross-country move.
Porter, formerly the superintendent of South Washington County (Minn.) Public Schools, agreed to a three-year contract, which the board approved, at a Tuesday meeting in Key West.
An energetic Porter said his “schedule is nonstop meetings right now” and that his first goal is to understand the dynamics of the Monroe County School District.
“When you come into a new organization,” Porter said, “you have to get a feel for how things work, assimilate that, and then look for areas where you can affect change. I'm still very much in the learning portion.”
Porter and his wife Jane moved into the Key West Golf Club, taking over a lease formerly held by his predecessor, Jesus Jara. On Aug. 1, Jara started a new job as deputy superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in Central Florida.
Porter said he needs to make a return trip to Minnesota to finalize the sale of his home and to welcome a second grandchild to the world.
During a Friday interview, Porter said he had just gotten word that his middle son was on his way to the hospital with his wife to deliver the newest Porter.
Back to business, Porter said in the coming months, as he gets to know and works with board members, they will reach a balance between policy governance and a more hands-on approach to management.
“It takes time,” he says. “It's a relationship effort, who the board members are and who I am to them. We're not going to do anything too quickly or abruptly.”
Porter signed a three-year deal and will earn $150,000 annually. Initially, his contract included performance bonuses added onto a $145,000 base salary.
That contract, negotiated by board member Robin Smith-Martin, considered an annual board review using a four-point scale: Highly effective, effective, needs improvement or ineffective.
If judged highly effective, Porter would have received a 12.5 percent bonus after the first year; it would have been 6.25 percent if his performance rated effective. The corresponding cash values are $18,125 and $9,063.
Smith-Martin was part of a three-person negotiating team that included Key West City Attorney Shawn Smith and Monroe County Clerk of the Court Danny Kolhage, both of whom had limited input in the talks, particularly on the performance measures.
Smith-Martin says he's OK with the contract Porter signed rather than the one Smith-Martin negotiated.
“Well, you can lead the horses to water, you cannot make them drink,” he said. “So be it. I'm glad to have Mr. Porter here and I'm happy for the nice raise he has been granted in the last week.” ——— ©2012 the Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Fla.) Visit the Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Fla.) at www.keysnet.com Distributed by MCT Information Services AMX-2012-08-04T11:45:00-04:00