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Currently 2 Responses

  • 1.
  • You know Tom, Julie's available. The only reasoning behind your "nose of her butt" response is clearly some infatuation with the lady. I say Go for it. Maybe then you'l speak intelligently and not from parts unknown.
  • Donna Grossman
    Sat 28th May 2011
    at 1:22pm
  • 2.
  • Well said Julie. Your candor and knowledge is a real asset to the board. Bowen (the board attorney) has given all sorts of bad advice to the board for years including recently his meaningless and flawed opinion letter wherein he assures the board that they do not face any liability for the deficits that the board has allowed for years - even though state law and statute on this point is clear. There is personal liability and the potential for the governor to remove board members explicitly referenced in state law cited by Bowen. Bowen's transparent defense seems to be that board members relied on consultant reports and should therefore not be liable. The reality is that any judge applies standards of reasonableness and such a defense does not pass the smell test. It won't be hard to prove that the board knew exactly what it was doing in continuing deficits for years. So, a meangless opinion letter won't do board members any good and they (not Bowen) are liable and at risk. Bowen has also advised the board (on the record) that the Auditor General's critical comments were just an "opinion" and so (in effect) the board does not have to take his findings too seriously. This is the same attorney who convinced the board it was necessary to engae the district in a long and very expensive series of lawsuits to prevent the parents of an autistic child from having their their child evaluated in class. Naturally, Bowen lost the case and the district was forced to pay a settlement and several hundred thousand dollars of outside legal costs. The worst part is that our school department should never treat the parents of any child this way and force them to go to court just to get a necessary evaluation of their child.

    While I believe Bowen should be replaced immediately, note that superintendent McGonegal (who is a CPA and who was formerly CFO of the district) has publicly acknowledged his responsibilty for the deficit fiasco, stating that he will "take the bullet." That means nothing since the board has given him a free pass and there seems to be no consequence for his presiding over a longstanding and illegal deficit. Of course, in the private sector, he and Bowen would have been fired some time ago.

    The level of fiscal mismanagement evident surrourounding lomngstanding deficits in excess of $12 million (when worker's compensation and healthcare are combined) is embarrassing. We need the board to act decisively to remedy this deficit and get the financial affairs of MCSD in order so that the board can focus on improving education. Superintendent McGonegal has publickly acknowledged that MCSD in in the bottom quarter of Florida communities in standardized test scores and that Florida is in the bottom quarter of states.

    Our kids deserve better. The superintendent and the board attorney work for the board. Parents and taxpayers of Manatee County elected the board to provide the best possible education for our children. This deficit issue would never have been brought to light absent the determined efforts of new board member Julie Aranibar. Likewise, the other new member, Karen Carpenter , has been clear that she will insist that this deficit is resolved immediately. Chairman Gause, Mr. Kinan, and Ms. Harvey need to cooperate to get this deficit resolved without further delay.
    MCSD is no an adult employment agency. The priority is the best education of our children. Given the materially flawed performance of Bowen and McGonegal, the board should ask each to resign so that MCSD can find the new leadership necessary if we are ever to to get and keep our fiscal house in order and move on to materially improve education.

    Tom Garland
  • tom garland
    Thu 19th May 2011
    at 11:09pm
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