Local News

‘Growing education TOGETHER’ is Murphy’s motto



This week, Highlands Today will be running question-and-answers from School Board of Highlands County District 5 candidates on why they are running and what they think are the challenges the school board faces. Early voting is from Aug. 16 to 23 and the primary is on Aug. 26.

Q: Provide a bit about your background – your profession or if retired what you did for a living.

A: As a native of Highlands County, I attended our public school system K-12. After graduating from the University of Florida with my Bachelor’s of Science in Agriculture and a master’s of Agribusiness, I founded Murphy Ag Solutions, Inc. My company distributes products to growers throughout the Southeast.

Q: Why do you want to be a school board member?

A: I knew it was time to give back to my community, which provided me with so many opportunities in my youth. I have been active in our local school system from the elementary to secondary levels since my return. With four generations of family living in Highlands County, I have a vested interest in our county’s future.

Q: What are the major issues facing the school board and how do you plan to address those issues?

Preparing our students for success in college, careers and life – Highlands County must provide options for all of our students to succeed in life, whether it’s a path to college or an immediate career. We need to strengthen our relationship with South Florida State College and utilize programs available such as AVID.

Florida Standards – Although I am not personally for Common Core (Florida Standards), it is currently mandated by the state. As a school board member, I will do everything possible to adapt it to best serve the children of Highlands County.

Funding and the ½ cent sales tax – Funding is a major issue for our local school district. The ½ cent sales tax will provide approximately $4.3-4.5 million annually to help fund building, technological improvements and maintenance programs. The children of Highlands County’s health and safety should not be compromised because of a lack of funds.

Q: Are there any issues or policies, etc., that have been addressed by the board or superintendent, that you disagree with?

A: Although I have agreed with the decisions made by the school board, I would like to ensure that all stakeholders (community, parents, teachers) are provided a comfortable environment in which their needs and concerns can be addressed.

Q: Why are you the best person for the District 5 school board seat?

A: These attributes are what makes me the most qualified District 5 school board candidate for “Growing Education TOGETHER:”

Education – I earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in business from the University of Florida.

Business Experience – As a small business owner, I’m responsible for every aspect of its operations.

Community Involvement – Since I chose to return to our community, I have volunteered in our local school system and community organizations in various capacities.

Family – With six family members currently teaching in our school district and eight cousins going through our system, I truly have a vested interest in our future.

Community/school involvement:

United Way advisory board member/ vice campaign chairman

United Way Reading Pals volunteer – in the classroom weekly

Highlands County Farm Bureau board member

Highlands County Young Farmers and Ranchers president

Leadership Highlands board member

Leadership Highlands Class of 2013 president

Coordinated bringing motivational speaker Marc Mero to all Highlands County middle schools through Leadership Highlands

Avon Park High School varsity soccer assistant coach

Highlands County YMCA soccer team sponsor and coach

Highlands County Tropicana Speech Contest judge

Highlands County 4-H and FFA judge and volunteer

Sponsor of school boosterthons

Volunteer at annual “Fall Harvest Festival”