Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Solution to the Cost of Living in the Keys

I don't usually have much to say about county government around here. Key West is a rich enough source of material. And we rarely leave the confines of our tiny island home. When I see something that is so apparently wrong, though, I do let my attention drift in the direction of the doings in Monroe County.

Monroe County, which extends from a little north of Key Largo down to Key West is among other things, the government entity that operates the public education system for the Keys. Randy Acevedo is Superintendent of Schools for Monroe County. In that position, he is responsible for the education of over 9,000 students in 26 schools by over 1200 teachers and other staff at a cost of almost 67 million dollars. Big job. Pays well, no doubt, over $100,000 as I recall.

The Keynoter today has an article about salary "supplements" paid to teachers and staff, payments that are over and above their normal salaries, and which are determined by the Superintendent and approved (I assume) by the Monroe County School Board. The Monroe County School District paid out $1.8 million in salary supplements in its most recent fiscal year, proportionately more by far than any other county in Florida, including those with more than 20 times the number of students that Monroe has.

The focus of the Keynoter article is on salary supplements paid to administrators. The bulk of the $1.8M goes to teaching staff, and is granted on the basis of factors such as longevity, and additional duties like coaching. But $260,000 of the $1.8M is given to administrators. And, according to the Keynoter article, "The largest supplement listed this year - $22,000 - goes to Monique Acevedo - Randy's wife. Though she is listed as an office manager at a salary of $39,000, Randy Acevedo said she took on the duties as adult education coordinator when the former director retired."

Let's see now. $39,000 + $22,000 + $100,000+. Well, it does cost a lot to live in the Keys. And three kids. Lots of couples have two working parents. So why not?

Somehow, though, it just doesn't seem right. Maybe Albertson's ought to be pressed to pay salary supplements. And Keys Energy, and all the other employers in the Keys. It could be a solution to the housing crisis, and the cost of living crisis, and the health care cost crisis. You think?

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