Florida Keys

Keys schools keep their ‘A’ rating for 2019

The Monroe County School District held onto its “A” rating in 2019 for the second consecutive year.
The Monroe County School District held onto its “A” rating in 2019 for the second consecutive year. File photo

Monroe County Schools kept an A rating from the state Department of Education for the second consecutive year,

Only one Florida Keys school’s grade dropped from 2018 and all the district’s schools received either A’s or B’s.

“It shows that we’re doing a fairly decent job of educating students,” said John Dick, a School Board member. “It encompasses the whole district. The lowest grades we have in any school is a B anyway.”

“We’ve made it to where we wanted to be and that’s an A district with no C schools,” said Superintendent Mark Porter.

The state’s annual report card for Florida districts and individual schools came out Thursday and Keys schools fared well. Ten schools kept the same grade as last year’s, and only one, Stanley Switlik Elementary in Marathon, slipped a letter grade since last year.

Switlik went from an A in 2018 to a B this year.

Andy Griffiths, the longest-serving School Board member, said of the grades, “It’s an important measure but it’s only one measure.”

The only oddity was that May Sands Montessori School in Key West — an A school since it opened in 2010 — scored an incomplete.

Porter called it a “procedural thing,” over some test materials not having been returned. “We believe that will be an appealable error so to speak,” Porter said.

Ocean Studies Charter, the district’s smallest school located in Tavernier, jumped two letter grades higher than 2018 by raising itself from a C school to an A.

Three schools went up one letter grade: Gerald Adams Elementary on Stock Island went from a C to a B, Key West Collegiate Academy in Key West went from a C to a B, and Poinciana Elementary in Key West rose from a B school to an A.

These schools have kept an A rating for the past two years, even after 2017’s Hurricane Irma devastated parts of the Lower and Middle Keys, along with part of the Upper Keys:

Coral Shores High School, Key West High School, Sugarloaf School, Plantation Key, Sigsbee Charter School, Treasure Village Montessori Charter School and Big Pine Academy.

Marathon Middle High School for the second consecutive year scored a B, as did Horace O’Bryant School in Key West and Key Largo School.

Statewide, 63% of schools earned an A or B grade, and only 15 schools received an F grade. Two of the three key highlights listed in the Florida Department of Education’s release noted how charter schools performed better than traditional schools: 51% of Florida’s charter schools earned an A this year compared to 32% of traditional public schools, and 74% of charter schools earned an A or B this year, compared to 61% of traditional public schools.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.