CONSERVATIVES CRITICIZE SCHOOL BOARD

Before members of the Monroe County School Board heard an update on the new Key West High School football stadium, they heard an earful from a few Cudjoe Key residents representing a conservative group known as Moms for Liberty and Lower Keys Conservatives.

The meeting took place June 14 at Key West’s City Hall, where Cudjoe Key resident Gina Bosic questioned the presence of a rainbow flag and a Ukrainian flag.

“We say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and here there’s a rainbow flag,” she said with disgust. “And there’s a Ukrainian flag out front. I’ve done some research into, not what the mainstream media tells you, but what’s really going on in Ukraine.”

Bosic then lambasted the school board for a book she saw in a public county library about “gender queer. It’s disgusting. I’m disgusted that it would even be tolerated. How would that even get into the public system?” Bosic said.

Superintendent Theresa Axford, along with board chair John Dick and Mindy Conn, emphasized to the Keys Weekly following the meeting that the Bosic mentioned is in a public county library, not a school library.

In other news, construction of Key West High School’s new Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium is on track to begin in May 2023, after next year’s baseball season. The upcoming football season will be played at The Backyard at the high school on Flagler Avenue.

Pat Lefere, the school district’s director of operations and planning, told the board that the cost estimate for phase 1 of the new stadium stands at $16.4 million, an increase from the $15 million that was originally budgeted.

The first phase will include new football bleachers, a new home team locker room, a new visiting team bunkhouse and locker room due to the high cost of hotels in Key West. The baseball side of the complex at Rex Weech Field will get a new press box and refurbished bleachers and a new but temporary concession stand, Lefere said.

Board member Mindy Conn reminded the board of prior concerns about the new football bleachers encroaching on and shortening the baseball outfield. Lefere said the bleacher design had changed so the baseball outfield will be the same as it is now, within a few feet, and the football bleachers will retain their current capacity of 3,000 seats.

Phase 1 of the project is slated to be mostly complete by January 2024, Lefere said.

Also, the board voted to move ahead on housing at the district’s Trumbo Road headquarters by seeking housing proposals from potential developers based on an unsolicited proposal received from the developer of the neighboring, luxury Steam Plant condominiums. That company had proposed about 75 homes and a new administration building. But the school board has indicated it wants more housing and no administration building on that site. The Steam Plant development group also can amend its initial proposal to reflect the board’s desires and resubmit a proposal.

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.