Superintendent Mike Burke speaks on future of Palm Beach County School District
CBS 12 | By Amber Raub | September 20, 2023
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Palm Beach County School District Superintendent Mike Burke spoke about issues the school district is facing and priorities for the year in front of the League of Women Voters.
Palm Beach County mother, Monica Baber, says knowing what’s going on with her children’s education is a big priority. That’s why she came to Mounts Botanical Gardens to hear Superintendent Mike Burke talk Wednesday.
“I want to know that they are getting taught to tackle further challenges that will come along in higher education, and I want to make sure they’re going to be well rounded,” said Baber.
Staying informed is a big part of that, which is why the Women’s League of Voters in Palm Beach County puts on events like this one. The chapter president, Kathi Gundlach, says it aligns with their mission.
“We do advocate for good education and good funding and education, and I think people need to start kind of voicing their concerns about what Florida legislators do in regards to education,” said Gundlach.
Burke spoke about issues at the forefront of parents’ minds, saying a big hurdle for the district right now is all the new legislation passed in Tallahassee.
“We had over 36 bills that impacted education this year. The state education laws have grown over the last 10 years by about 600 pages, 900 pages, you know, to 1500 pages, so it’s an incredible amount of legislation,” said Burke.
One of those laws was the expansion of the school voucher program, which now qualifies any student in Florida to use tax-payer funds to attend private, charter and public schools. Burke says the law hasn’t affected the district yet.
“We were actually 575 students larger than we were last year, so we’re still growing, which is a good sign, and we hope that continues,” said Burke.
Palm Beach County School District Superintendent Mike Burke spoke about issues the school district is facing and priorities for the year in front of the League of Women Voters on Wednesday. (WPEC)
He also spoke on how the district is still struggling to hire teachers with three percent of positions still open.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher to hire teachers, and we are working on programs to grow our own, and we continue to recruit. We’ve brought in over 150 international teachers this year, but when I look long term, I think that’s going to be our biggest challenge,” said Burke. “We do have some substitutes who are filling in on a permanent basis to help cover those classrooms, so we have our classrooms covered, but we’re actively recruiting and hiring each day.”
Burke says even some principals are jumping in to help teach for the time being, and while the school district is still looking for more teachers, Burke says the district just finished talks with the teachers union to raise teacher pay by seven and a half percent. The raise will go before the school board for approval at their next meeting.
Most importantly, Burke says the district needs more funding from the state so they can provide more resources, which is something parent Monica Baber agrees with.