Dr. Burke delivers "state of schools" address
FORT MYERS - From the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores to budget deficits the Lee County School District is facing some tough challenges.
At 7:30 a.m., over coffee and eggs at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke gave his first "State of the Schools" address, playing off this year's Olympic theme of "go for the gold."
"We face many challenges," said Burke. "And like Olympic athletes we're working hard to overcome those challenges."
Among those challenges are things we've reported on before:
- The district faces a $15 million deficit.
- Burke thinks the budget can be balanced without cutting programs.
- More than 70 percent of kids are on free or reduced lunch.
- 47 percent of all new teachers leave the district after five years.
- A need to improve writing standards.
- Tougher FCAT standards.
"There's really no other way to say this," said Burke, "the FCAT writing results were dismal."
While third grade math and reading scores beat the state average, half of ninth and tenth graders failed the FCAT reading due to tougher standards.
Burke says FCAT scores are a top priority for the district.
"Because it is a more challenging test," said Burke, "because we have the new cut scores, it's going to have to be a focal point of our attention."
Burke says the district is preparing for a new tougher test that will replace the FCAT. He says teachers will go through training and he wants algebra required for all eighth graders.
"You can't change the direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails," said school board chair Mary Fischer. "And I think that's what we're in the process of doing now."
The event was also scheduled to build relationships with local businesses and encourage people to donate time and money to the district.
"There's no silver bullet in education," said Burke. "It is really about the quality of instruction."