Superintendent Spotlight:

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Michael "Mike" Burke

What brought you to education and what makes you stay?

After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in finance, I came across a classified ad for a budget analyst position in Broward County Public Schools. I was fortunate enough to land the job and quickly became interested in a career. It’s very rewarding to work for a good cause and I do not believe anything is more important than public education. My Mom had a career in the Federal government and always stressed the importance of public service. If I ever need a reminder as to why to continue, all it takes is a school visit and some interaction with our students. There is no better source of inspiration, and it always lifts my spirits. This is a great job and I’m honored to serve in this role.

What do you most want to accomplish during your superintendency? What obstacles stand in your way and how do you plan to overcome them?

I want our district operated public schools to outperform all other education choice options including charter schools, private schools, virtual, and home education. While academic performance is paramount, I am also stressing the importance of a complete educational experience that includes athletics, music, clubs and extracurricular activities. Ideally, every student will forge a connection with their school campus beyond the classroom through a team sport, the band, or a club. There are always obstacles, but we are very fortunate in Palm Beach County to have a community that strongly supports our schools. We enjoy many great business and community partnerships, as well as two local referendums that enhance funding for both operating and capital expenditures.

What is your main area of focus for this year?

For this school year, I’m focused on Improving student performance outcomes and providing more opportunities for community experiences outside of the classroom. As part of our strategic plan, every fifth, seventh, and tenth grade student will go on a field trip this school year. These cultural, science, and local history venues will reinforce classroom learning and open student minds to new experiences across Palm Beach County. Raising our standard of customer service expectations throughout all levels of the school district is also a priority in this extremely competitive environment with universal vouchers.

How are you recruiting and retaining staff?

Palm Beach is providing a very competitive compensation package to employees and working to ensure all members of Team Palm Beach feel valued and supported in their work. I also shadow an employee each month to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the job they do. My job shadow experiences are filmed as part of an ongoing series called “Burke at Work”. This has been a fun way to get to know my colleagues better throughout the district.

What do you think is the most important skill for a superintendent to develop?

Communications skills are incredibly important as superintendent, along with decision making and problem solving.

What do you most want students to remember from their time in school?

I want students to remember all of the teachers, counselors, coaches, school administrators and support staff that contributed to their success and hopefully helped them have fun along the way.

Last but not least – please share something your colleagues probably don’t know about you 

I skateboard with my dog Harper who is half Siberian Husky and loves to run. My neighbors tease me that we are training for the Iditarod. I grew up surfing and skateboarding, but people are surprised to see me still skateboarding at my age.

Committee Meetings and Legislative Session Right Around the Corner

By David Sikes, FADSS AEO

It was great to see everyone in Orlando for the FADSS Fall Leadership Conference. There was extensive discussion during the conference regarding the current issues superintendents are facing, many of which are the result of the implementation of recent legislation. While you all have your hands full with the statutory and rule changes that have occurred over the past couple of years, it is time to get ready for the upcoming legislative session.

The 2023 Interim Committee meetings for the Florida Legislature kick off in earnest in October and will continue through December. The 2024 Legislative Session begins January 9, 2024, and runs through March 8th. As the legislative action heats up, I encourage each of you to reach out to your local delegation and share your ideas, concerns, and successes. Invite your local delegation to your schools and let them see first-hand the great things your students and staff are doing. Be upfront about the issues your students and staff encounter on a daily basis.

The first step towards influencing change is helping the decision-makers understand the reality school districts face. No one is better equipped to do this for our public school students than superintendents. As the leader of your school district, utilize your unique understanding of your schools and the communities they serve to advocate on their behalf. FADSS will always advocate on behalf of the state’s superintendents, but nothing matches the personal connection you can provide from within the district.

At-Large Board Members Installed at Fall Conference

FADSS past president & Pasco County Schools Supt. Kurt Browning swore in Superintendents Kevin Hendrick (Pinellas), Dr. Karen Barber (Santa Rosa), and Marcus Chambers (Okaloosa) as at-large directors on FADSS board of directors. Congratulations!

Astronaut Live Chat Series Launches on October 18

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is extending a special invitation to middle and high-school-age students/children for an exclusive Live Chat with trailblazer Maj. Gen. Charlie Bolden on October 18 at 1:15 pm CT/2:15 pm ET. Bolden was the first African American NASA Administrator, a NASA astronaut who flew on four Space Shuttle missions, and a retired United States Marine Corps Major General. 


During this engaging Live Chat session, Bolden will captivate the young participants with his incredible journey, sharing inspiring stories that encourage them to dream big and venture into the unexplored realms of possibilities. Attendees will also have the opportunity to actively participate by asking questions and engaging in discussions with a real-life astronaut. This interactive experience is sure to ignite their curiosity and enthusiasm in STEM fields, beyond the boundaries of aerospace alone, and will undoubtedly inspire students to embark on their own journey of exploration and discovery as they explore future career paths.


This interactive Live Chat series is free of charge and is made in honor of Scott Carpenter, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts and a founding member of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. He believed in the importance of education and inspiring future generations to pursue their passions in STEM fields. 


Click here for more information and to RSVP and reserve your seat(s), and group sign-up is an option. 

FADSS 2023 Fall Leadership Conference Highlights

By Katrina Figgett, FADSS Director of Training

Judging by the feedback, the FADSS 2023 Fall Conference provided attendees with a good mix of presentations and discussion time, as many said the time given to engage and learn from each other is powerful!


Apart from network time, the CEO Leadership Development Program Leadership Challenge presentations from Mike Swindle, Superintendent of Hendry County and David Moore, Superintendent of Indian River were the highlight for many. 


Mike Swindle’s Leadership Challenge centered on the creation of the Champion Mentoring Program designed to increase the graduation rate at Clewiston High School. Clewiston HS serves an area known as Historic Harlem, a census-designated place, which was originally built to house agricultural laborers farming sugar cane; to this day the population of roughly 2,700 is over 95% African American. Students from this socio-economically disadvantaged area who attend Clewiston HS graduated at lower rates than their peers. The mentorship program that was put in place targeted students at risk of not graduating. Utilizing school and community members who would have immediate buy-in from mentees, the program successfully graduated 26 of the 30 students targeted in the first year of operation and has now graduated 17 out of the 19 targeted students in the second year. The African American graduation rate at Clewiston H.S. for 2022 rose to 91.4%, and though this was not the programs focus, behavioral referrals saw a dramatic drop. As Mike said “If students are focusing all their time and energy on academics they don’t have time to misbehave”. The sustainability of the program has been assured due to the addition of specific personnel, the implementation of an early warning system, and enhanced collaboration with Athletics, CTE, and other school organizations.     


David Moore’s Leadership Challenge focused on the Theory of Action that “If the utilization of systems for instructional improvement and alignment and capacity of human resources are optimized, then accelerated improvements in student achievement outcomes will be realized.” In 2018-19 Indian River was ranked 38th out of the 67 Florida school districts, its school grades comparing unfavorably with size-alike districts. Seven action steps for sustainable systems change were put in place working to leverage and empower the talent within the district, while eliminating inefficiencies and creating needed frameworks and systems. Through implementation of the seven action steps, Indian River saw its state ranking improve to 22 in 2021-22, a sixteen-place jump that was the largest rate of improvement in the state along with a graduation rate of 95% - 4th in the State. Continuing this positive trajectory Indian River was one of only 4 districts that saw level 3+ growth across assessed content areas between 2018-19 to 2022-23 and outperforming the State percentages of students performing at level 3+ in all Spring assessed content areas for the first time in the district’s history!


These two Leadership Challenges show just how critical the translation of vision to action is to student outcomes, and the importance of stakeholder involvement to their success. We look forward to highlighting 2 more CEOLDP superintendents’ leadership challenges at the FADSS Spring Conference!

FADSS Training and Development Reminders

FADSS is pleased to be able to offer districts Technical Assistance in a wide variety of areas, including finance, human resources, and technology. FADSS will secure a consultant for 3 days along with their travel expenses. To request TA please contact Katrina Figgett.


Recent FADSS technical assistance from the 2022-23 school year produced materials that will be of value to all districts. These materials - a Financial Reporting to DOE Manual and an MISD Handbook - are now available on the FADSS website at the top of this page.


New this year, FADSS is proud to offer a limited availability of leadership coaching for superintendents, either on their own or with their cabinet level district administrators. Please contact Katrina if you are interested in learning more about this opportunity. 

Thank you to FADSS 2023 - 2024
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