Monroe County School Board members on Tuesday begrudgingly voted to stick with a three-year $1.8 million program designed to reverse the trend of American students falling behind in math, science and technology, despite less than stellar results.
In the first year of applying the National Math and Science Initiative College Readiness program, which encourages more students to take advanced classes, the district’s student participation grew by 15 percent.
The first year cost the district $95,000, as NMSI provided $300,000 in grant money up front. For a three-year program in Monroe County, the total cost would be nearly $1.8 million, according to a report provided to the board.
The next year’s program cost is $289,500 from the district, board members said.
Costs include teacher and administer stipends, money to pay for extra student study sessions and in the first year, $37,600 for student awards.
Administrators said momentum is growing in Keys public schools for the program, but board members Ed Davidson and John Dick questioned whether it’s worth the price tag.
“We were promised results. Those are not anywhere near what we were given to expect,” said Davidson, who dissented in the 4-1 vote.
This year, Keys schools had 276 qualifying scores in math, science and English, an increase of 36. Also, the district had a 24 percent increase in students enrolling in the courses.
Dick, Andy Griffiths, Bobby Highsmith and Ron Martin voted in favor, Dick adding he is trusting Superintendent Mark Porter’s recommendation.
Monroe County has 550 teachers, while NMSI helps 28 who are eligible for bonuses if they hit certain targets, Dick said.
“You promised us the moon and you gave us moon rock,” Dick told NMSI president Gregg Fleisher at Tuesday’s meeting in Key West. “You should fall short on your bill.”
Porter urged the board to continue with the program, saying the district has changed teachers’ classrooms.
“We owe it to them to provide the kind of support NMSI does, to address the needs of those students,” Porter said.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen