Keys School Board member: Build housing for teachers on Sugarloaf

The Monroe County School District can afford to build at least 20 two-bedroom concrete homes for teachers near Sugarloaf School, a School Board member says.

“They can put them together in a day and a half,” said Andy Griffiths. “If we don’t do this, shame on us. Our people need this.”

Each home would cost $112,700, not including the finishing work, Griffiths said, describing the type of home he envisions.

“Now is the time,” he said at Tuesday’s board meeting, at one point banging his hand on the table. “It’s more important now because of the storm,” Hurricane Irma.

None of the other four members spoke against the idea.

“We should definitely pursue this,” Bobby Highsmith said, noting the Keys affordable housing crisis has worsened since the Category Hurricane Irma struck Sept. 10, leveling much of the Lower Keys.

Griffiths said the board could finance the project and rent out the homes at below-market rates.

“The board directs the superintendent to look into this and give it a top priority,” said board Chairman John Dick.

“We have land,” Griffiths said, recalling that about 13 years ago this proposal was made. “We’ve been down this road before.”

Make-up days

After hearing Superintendent Mark Porter’s proposed revised calendar for students, given they missed 13 to 18 days of school due to Hurricane Irma and its aftermath, the School Board settled on a 7.5-day make-up calendar.

The decision isn’t final until administrators have met with the teachers union again.

But board members didn’t like the idea of taking away any of the Thanksgiving holiday. Instead, the consensus was to make Veterans Day — the observance day of Nov. 10, not that actual Nov. 11 holiday — and Presidents Day school days, along with some professional development days.

The final calendar will be set at the next board meeting in two weeks.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen