Dr. Larry Murray

A former 60’s hippie with a strong belief in capitalism, Dr. Murray obtained his Ph.D. in American History in 1970 and went on to, in his own words, ‘publish and perish,’ teaching at colleges and universities while publishing in professional journals.

Now Dr. Murray is a tireless community activist, focusing primarily on the administration of the public schools in Monroe County. Hands down, Larry has made more public records requests to the school district than anyone else – ever – something he describes as “the equivalent of pulling teeth” or, as some have put it, “herding cats”.

Pushing for the best schools possible, he pokes and prods, urging the School District, as often as not, to simply follow its own rules and regulations, not do something unique and different.

More Articles by Larry Murray .

More Articles by Larry Murray prior to November, 2014.

Nov 102017
 
Abnormally High Tides Since Spring Solstice / What about you?

by Dr. Larry Murray……. The king tides are abundantly clear in the canal behind our home on Big Pine Key. However, that is nothing new. We have had exceptional high tides all summer, at least since the Spring Solstice. I do not know what is going on, but it concerns me. There is no indication that the tide in my canal is going to return to “normal”, 3-6″ lower than the current state of affairs. I wonder how many others are having a comparable experience.

 November 10, 2017  Posted by at 12:49 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #242, Letter to the Editor No Responses »
Oct 272017
 
Evacuation vs. Debris Removal

by Dr. Larry Murray……. When the new county Emergency Management Director took office last year, I called to tell him that the county spent way too much time and energy planning hurricane evacuation and not enough was spent on post-hurricane problems, most prominently debris removal.  Looks like my “prediction” has come true. Monroe County should long ago have designated sites for storing mountains of hurricane debris.  Using the School District property at Marathon Manor is a disaster.  The soil will be contaminated with who knows what [continue reading…]

 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #240, Letter to the Editor 2 Responses »
Sep 012017
 
Athletic Scholarships In The School District

by Larry Murray……. Like many of you, I read the daily “Prep Sports: Class of 2018 Senior Spotlight” in the Citizen.  I tend to focus on two questions, those regarding the interrelationship between sports and academics.  One question asks about the athlete’s goals for the coming year relating to academics and athletics.  The answers vary markedly.  Many talk about raising their GPA so that they may qualify for an athletic scholarship. That got me wondering as to how many athletes in MCSD earn a partial or [continue reading…]

 September 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:34 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #234 No Responses »
Aug 042017
 
An Open Letter To FKAA

by Larry Murray  ……. I was pleased to read that FKAA has slowed its rush to build a multi-million dollar desalinization plant, though I disagree with your reason for postponement.  I assume that the criticism raised by the Key West Chamber of Commerce played a part in your decision making.  I agree with the KWCoC that there needs  to be considerably more community input before FKAA invests tens of millions of dollars in a desalinization plant.  Shifting part of the cost to the state from local [continue reading…]

 August 4, 2017  Posted by at 12:34 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #230 1 Response »
Jul 072017
 
Academics vs. Sports at Keys High Schools

by Larry Murray……. Dear Editor, If you are interested in obtaining insight to the mindset of the typical Keys high school student, I urge you to read the “Prep Sports: Class of 2018 Senior Spotlight”.  This is a daily feature on the sports page of the Key West Citizen. The Citizen has published this feature for a number of years and I find the comments very insightful. I urge you to pay particular attention to the responses to two questions: “Regarding the sports you play [continue reading…]

Jun 022017
 
Marathon Manor: Not To Worry

by Larry Murray……. For those of you who have been wondering what was to become of the Marathon Manor property, wonder no more. For those of you who have been worried about how the School District would recoup its $7.4 million plus investment of 12 years ago, worry no more. All will be revealed at the School Board meeting on June 13. A School Board member has repeatedly assured me that all would be fine with the Marathon Manor property despite the passage of time. [continue reading…]

 June 2, 2017  Posted by at 12:57 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #221 No Responses »
Apr 212017
 
Where Is the Funding Coming From?

Editor: The School Board has voted unanimously to purchase a piece of land on Stock Island for $3.25 million to locate its new transportation center. There was no discussion as to why this piece of land as opposed to any other is so important as to pay above the appraised value. The land also contains a building about which there was no discussion as to its condition and usability. More importantly, the School District plans to do its due diligence regarding the property after the [continue reading…]

 April 21, 2017  Posted by at 12:40 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #215, Letter to the Editor 1 Response »
Mar 032017
 
Open Letter To The School Board

by Dr. Larry Murray……. I have repeatedly raised the issue of MCSD having appropriate policies for the processing of Public Records Requests. After several conversations, it occurs to me that I may have been using the wrong term and thus confusing matters. Yes, MCSD does have very general policies regarding Public Records. What it does not have are WRITTEN PROCEDURES for processing Public Records Requests. There is nothing that identifies to whom a request should be sent and who is responsible for both the processing [continue reading…]

Feb 102017
 
Public Records Law: What About Those School District Text Messages?

Superintendent Porter and School Board: I have expressed to you before my concerns about texting in the conduct of School District business. To my knowledge, only Superintendent Porter has a smart phone provided by the District. Board members provide and maintain their own private phones. Similarly, virtually all District employees have their own phones, not one provided by the District. As a result, there is no District maintained mechanism for storing text messages that might be involved with District operations. Consequently, Public Records Requests for [continue reading…]

 February 10, 2017  Posted by at 1:16 am ~ Opinion ~, Editorial, Issue #205 3 Responses »
Jan 272017
 
Charter Schools, Busing and Ethnicity

by Dr. Larry Murray……. Several weeks ago, the Key West Collegiate High School announced that it was expanding for the 2017-2018 school year by adding a middle school. That announcement touched off an intense, sometimes heated debate, on the School Board and elsewhere regarding the role of charter schools in our county.

 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #203 No Responses »
Dec 022016
 
Open Letter: White Flight?

by Larry Murray……. Andy: In today’s Keynoter, you are quoted with regard to the proposed Collegiate Middle School: “How can we be sure that this will not result in one more white-flight school?” Very interesting comment that is likely to have the community talking and then some. When you say “ONE MORE white-flight school” (emphasis added), I assume you are referencing Poinciana School, Montessori Charter School and Sigsbee Charter School as existing “white-flight” schools. Correct? Or, are you referencing other schools? You cannot be identifying [continue reading…]

 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:46 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #195, Letter to the Editor No Responses »
Nov 252016
 
Profitability of Advanced Placement Courses

by Larry Murray……. We are all familiar with the profitability of Advanced Placement courses for students. That is their main purpose. First of all, students receive a higher level of instruction in AP classes than is ordinarily the case. Because of the additional training given to TEACHERS, the quality of instruction is much higher. Equally important is the fact that students who score a 3 or higher on a 5 point scale are usually given college credit for the class. The net is that they [continue reading…]

 November 25, 2016  Posted by at 1:04 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #194, Letter to the Editor 4 Responses »
Oct 142016
 
Trauma Star vs. LifeNet Fees

by Larry Murray……. Editor: Recent reports suggest that the Sheriff’s Department Trauma Star medical evacuation program should break even this year and be in the black in 2017. That indeed is good news. Given those reports, I contacted the Sheriff’s Department regarding Trauma Star costs. Finance Director Mike Rice provided me with the following data. A medical evacuation from Lower Keys Medical Center to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami costs $24,471. Costs from Fishermen’s Hospital and Mariners Hospital to Ryder Trauma Center are $21,353 and [continue reading…]

 October 14, 2016  Posted by at 12:50 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #188, Letter to the Editor No Responses »
Sep 232016
 
An Open Letter To The School Board

Gentlemen: At your recent Board meeting, you received a report from your Human Resources Department. The undated report was entitled “2015-2016 New Employee End of the Year Survey Results” and included ” Employee 2015-2016 Survey Results Comparison”. (The District continues to have problems properly titling and/or dating documents, particularly reports.) When I first saw this report, I was pleased and complimented HR Director Dr. Ramon Dawkins. It appears that my compliment was premature. That is what I learned when I read the “2015-2016 New Employee [continue reading…]

 September 23, 2016  Posted by at 1:04 am Issue #185, Letter to the Editor No Responses »
Jul 082016
 
An Open Letter to the School Board: Computer Literacy in Monroe County Schools

Chairman Griffiths: I listened with great interest to your comments last week on “Morning Magazine” regarding “Monroe Compute$”. I share your enthusiasm and praise for John Padget and Jacob Dekker for creating the program which enables students to earn industry certificates in computing and computer science programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe. Of course, the success of this program is directly related to the financial incentives provided by Padget and Dekker, more than $75,000 for the 256 students who have successfully completed their course [continue reading…]

May 132016
 
Open Letter to the School Board: Cash Settlements and School Discipline

Gentlemen: According to news reports, MCSD is considering a lump sum $550,000 payout to the family of a profoundly autistic elementary school student. Purportedly, the child was molested by a substitute teacher who is now in federal prison. Again, according to news reports, the suit in federal court was brought not entirely because of the molestation, but because of the allegations that the child’s mother reported the incident(s) to officials at Sugarloaf School and was ignored. One expects that there is a foundation, a truthfulness, [continue reading…]

May 062016
 
Open Letter: Contretemps Over Drug Testing of Student Athletes

Gentlemen: I think we all know that there has been a major brouhaha over the proposed return of random drug testing for high school athletes. The proposal was brought to you at your recent workshop/meeting with very little, if any, explanation as to why the program was being revised. There was some mumbling to the effect that the principals and athletic directors wanted the random testing. This morning in his interview with Bill Becker on “Morning Magazine”, Superintendent Porter repeated that he and his staff [continue reading…]

 May 6, 2016  Posted by at 12:58 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #165 No Responses »
Feb 192016
 
An Open Letter To The School Board

Gentlemen: I gather from recent newspaper reports that you are once again turning your attention to affordable housing for teachers. Those reports also include some scary data about the overwhelming number of first year teachers who say that they are leaving because they cannot afford housing. It would be interesting to examine the veracity of those statements, but for now, let us take them at face value. As you attack the situation, it will be interesting to see what options you believe are viable by [continue reading…]

 February 19, 2016  Posted by at 1:00 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #154 2 Responses »
Feb 052016
 
Who Knew What and When Did They Know It?

An Open Letter To The School Board Gentlemen: We are all anxiously looking forward to Superintendent Mark Porter’s report at next Tuesday’s Board meeting regarding the missing $20,000 in the daycare operation at HOB School. This is Superintendent Porter’s third try at determining what went wrong and who was responsible. They say that three times is a charm and we all expect a thorough, detailed and comprehensive exposition, the final word on the subject. I am particularly interested in the first paragraph of the report [continue reading…]

 February 5, 2016  Posted by at 1:22 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #152, Letter to the Editor 1 Response »
Jan 222016
 
About School District Transparency: "Right and Proper Trumps Legal Every Time"

Chairman Griffiths: I have had an opportunity to read all of the documents that you sent me regarding the rules, regulations and procedures for conducting School Board regular meetings, particularly with regard to the preparation and execution of agendas. You are correct that School Board policy for agendas, “Electronic Posting of Agenda and Agenda-Related Documents,” is more stringent than the state requires and I applaud the Board for that. Unfortunately, the agenda procedures outlined are, as often as not, honored in the breach. Phrased differently, [continue reading…]

 January 22, 2016  Posted by at 1:07 am Dr. Larry Murray, Issue #150 No Responses »
Jan 082016
 
No National Merit Scholarship Program?  If Not, Why Not?

Editor: Some time before Christmas when the School District comes to a grinding, two week halt, I sent a simple and direct email to Superintendent Porter requesting information about academic activity. The question was: “Can you tell me if the Monroe County School District participates in the National Merit Scholarship Program and, if so, how well have we done?” Because of the academic nature, I copied Theresa Axford, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. Neither has deigned to respond to my query. I am not [continue reading…]