District 1 school board member says she will concentrate on improving reading skills.
Over the next four years on the School District of Manatee County's board, Parrish's Gina Messenger hopes to improve the district's pre-K and early childhood education programs while also increasing the level of students' reading abilities in all grades.
Messenger, who retains her seat in District 1, was elected for a second four-year term on the board with 40,466 votes. Her opponent, GreyHawk Landing’s Bridget Mendel, had 28,722 votes.
“I’m just thankful and proud of the voters of Manatee County and appreciate their support,” Messenger said. “I’m excited to continue the good work that Manatee County is doing.”
Messenger said early childhood education and development is vital to children being able to read well at any grade level.
“We’ve already made some good strides in pre-K classes, and that’s helped with our grade level reading, but we need to continue to bring in community groups (such as Books for Kids, which promotes reading) and focus our attention on ensuring that all of our students are reading on grade level,” she said. “The entire community benefits.”
Although schools are closed to volunteers (such as those who represent Books for Kids) as a health and safety precaution during the pandemic, the district is working with churches throughout the county to be registered sites to provide tutoring and support for students if there’s a school closure.
“[The community partnerships] make me proud of Manatee County,” Messenger said. “I grew up here. That’s why I chose to raise my kids here.”
Messenger said she will continue working with the school board to address overcrowding at the schools by supporting the construction of wing additions such as the one that is funded for Lakewood Ranch High School.
Messenger said a middle school, which is planned for the northeast part of the county, is included in the district’s five-year capital plan.
The District 3 race ended with Dave Miner, the incumbent, receiving 28.53% of the vote and Mary Foreman receiving 26.48%. Miner and Foreman were the top two candidates out of the five who ran and they will meet in a run-off on the Nov. 3 ballot.