MANATEE COUNTY — East County schools appear to be leading the way in education in Manatee County.
Data released by the Florida Department of Education last week shows 13 of the 16 East County elementary, middle and high schools earned an “A” grade on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The two remaining schools earned “B” grades, and one — Imagine Charter School at East Manatee — does not show an overall grade.
In total, 51% of Manatee schools earned an “A” grade compared to 47% last year.
Manatee County Public Schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal said he was pleased with the scores, although he was disappointed the district just fell shy of receiving an overall “A” designation.
“In math, we scored a little lower than we hoped,” he said.
One of the most significant improvements district-wide was seen at Tara Elementary School, which jumped from a “C” in 2008 to an “A” this year.
Principal Dr. Linda Fouse said she screamed when she got the news.
“We felt we had shown great progress, but you never know the total formula,” Fouse said. “The staff and the students and the parents and I just thrilled.”
Fouse said Tara implemented a school-wide writing program to prepare for the test and teachers conducted individual and group remediation with students.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Fouse said. “Teachers and staff really focused.”
The school made the most gains in meeting standards for writing and science, jumping from 60% to 83% in writing and 44% to 54% in science from last year.
Lakewood Ranch High School was the only high school in the district earn an “A” grade.
Braden River High School slipped from an “A” to a “B,” falling slightly in reading, writing and math. Southeast High School improved one letter grade to a “C,” and both Bayshore and Palmetto high schools again earned “D” grades.
Bashaw Elementary School also posted a “B” after earning an “A” last year. Results showed a higher percentage of students met standards in both math and science, but the school had fewer students making learning gains in math than last year.
All other East County Schools maintained “A” grades.
“I think the biggest key is it’s a total school effort,” said Braden River Elementary School Principal Randy Mungillo, whose school has maintained an “A” grade since the 1998/1999 school year. “It’s really important that the whole staff knows that each one of them play an integral part. When one grade does well, we do a celebration for all of us. It’s a continuum that you have to start in kindergarten.”
For more information on the FCAT or to view FCAT results, visit www.manatee.k12.fl.us.
Contact Pam McTeer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
District budget crunch
Manatee County Schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal has pledged that Manatee’s district is doing whatever it can to hold teachers harmless amidst severe budget cuts.
“Our overall goal was to make budget cuts so not one of our students would feel it,” McGonegal said during a presentation to the Lakewood Ranch Republican Club June 19.
On June 8, the School Board approved a $13.6 million reduction in the budget on top of the $30 million in cuts last year.
McGonegal said changes include $8 million in salary reductions and $750,000 in cuts to school budgets, but they do not include funding cuts for school resource officers, JROTC programs and art and music because the programs help prevent student dropout.
2009 EAST COUNTY FCAT GRADES
Elementary Schools 08/09 07/08
Bashaw B A
Braden River A A
Freedom A A
Gullett A N/A
Kinnan A A
McNeal A A
Myakka City A A
Tara A C
Willis A A
Witt A A
Braden River A A
Haile A A
Nolan A A
Braden River B A
Lakewood Ranch A A