Name: Bridget Anne Ziegler
Occupation: Risk Management Consultant: AVP at Marsh USA, Inc. (Marsh & McLennan Companies)
Family (spouse/children, ages): Married to Christian Ziegler, with two daughters: Reagan Reese (4 ¾) and Sloane Frances (2 ½)
Education: Business marketing, Florida International University
Elected government experience: Sarasota County School Board Member & Current Chairman (Appointed by Governor Rick Scott 06/2014, Elected to four-year term 11/2014 for District 1 seat)
Why are you running for school board?
I am grateful for the tremendous work and tireless commitment of our teachers, families, volunteers, and students which make our school district one of the best – if not the best, in the state…. But there is more work to be done.
During my four years on the board, I been a successful champion for fiscal responsibility, transparency and #StudentFirst policies. I am committed to serving the best interests of all our community stakeholders, including parents, families, teachers, and taxpayers, to ensure Sarasota County Schools is offering every student a world-class education in a safe environment.
What do you see as the top three challenges facing the district, and where do you stand on each?
- Investing in our district’s human capital to make sure they have the tools and training to be prepared for all types of scenarios that can impact the safety and security of our staff and students.
- Developing and implementing a long-range strategic plan on recruiting and retaining high quality teachers
- Continued focus on transparency to ensure citizens convenient access to information about how their School Board is working for them.
What is your opinion of the school district’s plan to ultimately set up an in-house police force?
I think it is fair to say that I have been very vocal about my opposition to an school based internal police force. I believe as a school district, we need to focus on educating, and leave law enforcement to law enforcement experts. We have partnered successfully with the Sheriff's office and our local City Police departments for years, and we don’t need additional layers of bureaucracy. Additionally, the most significant concerns I have is regarding the vast unknowns that have not been accounted for and the speed of the hiring. I believe implementing a new department as ominous as a police department ought to be done with a clear path and detailed planning, prior to sign off. It appeared to me that the decision to move towards the internal police department was a result of poor communication, deteriorating relationships, and unbalanced distribution of information with the board.
Discuss your position on Superintendent Todd Bowen.
I have been very disappointed, and often troubled with the Superintendent’s performance, style of leadership, and communication (or lack thereof). As indicated in his evaluation, I believe that the Superintendent has illustrated a focus on his own personal preservation, over the goals, outcomes, and overall greater good for the district. The recent attempt to amend and extend his contract is indicative of this very issue.
In addition to a number of controversies that have played out since his appointment, morale across the district has deteriorated which could begin to have negative implications in the classroom. I also continue to hear concerns from members across the community which is something that should not be taken lightly, considering the incredible support they have illustrated in continued support of the 1 mill referendum.
What is your stance on charter schools?
I support the value of parental empowerment and believe all families should have access to high quality school choice options that best fit their child’s unique needs. Charter schools are one variety of the options available for students.
Over the last 4 years of service on the School Board, we have seen a significant drop in charter applications (in 2014 we had 11 initial applicants, compared to 2018 when we have only three. In the end, I believe Sarasota County Schools has improved as a result of school choice expansion and that everyone is working hard to seek out ways to make Sarasota County district managed schools the best choice for families and students.