EAST COUNTY — The Manatee County School District’s plan for financial recovery has satisfied the state, preventing the Florida Department of Education from becoming involved in the district’s operations.
On June 27, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett sent a letter to Manatee County School District officials that approved the district’s financial recovery plan, which is designed to return the district to a 3% fund balance by June 30, 2014.
If Bennett had not approved the plan, the state would have more directly intervened, and the district would have been subject to state takeover.
This year, Manatee Schools did not meet the state-required 3% fund balance for the third consecutive year.
“We are very, very pleased that the Department of Education recognized our hard work and the rationale and logic that went into it,” said Don Hall, deputy superintendent for operations. “This is a clear message business is being done differently in Manatee County schools.”
The day before Bennett offered his approval, district leaders spoke over the phone with him. They reviewed their plan line-by-line and explained their rationale for each item.
The plan, a version of which is posted on the district’s website and was presented to the School Board and public early in June, includes 80 cuts to district office staff and the addition of seven new positions, including a director of budget and a chief information officer.
Sixteen more cuts to district office staff in operations were not included in the plan submitted to the state, which is strictly a fund recovery plan that only deals with the fund balance.
It also includes 182 teacher layoffs made in May; property sales; the closing of the old MTI campus; fleet reduction; and other measures.
Expenditures on the plan include a 2% raise for all employees, except senior staff, and the reimbursement of 33% of funds taken from internal accounts earlier this spring to boost district reserves.
The 2% raise does not include raises the state allocated for teachers this year.
The plan also sets aside $2 million to ensure the district can rehire laid-off teachers in the fall, based on final school enrollments.
A state monitoring team will evaluate the district’s finances quarterly in 2013-14.
Contact Josh Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ Manatee brings back modified early-release Wednesdays
The Manatee County School District has brought back early-release Wednesdays, but on a modified schedule.
The school board approved early-release days for one Wednesday a month — except in January and April.
The district says the move will provide extra time for teachers to participate in workshops for the Common Core curriculum.
Across Florida, kindergarten and first-grade students started their Common Core education this school year. By next year, the standards will be fully implemented in second grade, with phasing in for grades three through 12.
Early-release day workshops will be for all district teachers.
“This is not a day off,” Manatee County Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Diana Greene said. “It’s a job-embedded professional learning day.”
A calendar with early-release dates will be online at manateeschools.net.
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Coats for kids
Knights of Columbus Councils are helping children in need by providing coats to children in their communities through the order’s Coats for Kids program.
Santa and his elf made a surprise stop Dec. 13, at WineStyles, in San Marco Plaza, by Harley-Davidson motorcycle, during the store’s weekly Friday night wine-tasting event.
Members and guests of the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club ventured Dec. 4 to Orlando, to view holiday decorations at the Grand Floridian and to have lunch at Downtown Disney.