+ Make the right choice this time
The Manatee Board of Education has an opportunity to select a true educational leader to head its schools, which needs attention with a positive and effective person in charge. Ranking 47 out of 67 schools in the state of Florida is a sad commentary on the past leadership under Tim McMonegal.
Coupled with this poor academic standing, there was the loss of $8.3 million in funds by overspending. The current CFO, Michael Boyer, did not make the board aware of this large discrepancy in the budget, the question is why. Obviously, the board does not have a track record of hiring responsible people — let’s hope they do a better job this time.
With a salary of $170,000 and perks that put the total package well over $200,000, it would seem the salary ought to attract outstanding candidates. The person chosen should have a proven track record and that goes without saying.
Also, I think the following questions should be addressed with the candidates: Did you graduate with a terminal degree from one of the leading universities that has done considerable work with effective school research? Do you have experience in curriculum and instruction across the grade levels? Have you been involved in negotiations? Have you been an officer in a professional organization within the state of Florida or any other state? Have you published articles in ASCD or Kappan or any other noted educational journal? What systemic changes have you made to a system that has resulted in higher achievement? Have you ever headed a self-study group for accreditation? Do you have a network of connections with other nationally-noted educators or educational research centers in the U.S.? Do you have experience with a diverse community? Do you have a working knowledge of testing and a grasp of the resulting scores?
When the Board approves a search and the prospective candidate can answer these questions, Manatee schools will climb the ladder out of the educational hole and financial distress they are in. A friend, William Purkey, of the University of North Carolina said, “If you always do what you have always done, you always get what you have always got.” The board can something different than the usual uninformed approach from the past. Let’s hope they take it.
George B. Kenworthy