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School Board of Manatee County, District 5: Chantal Wilford

Meet the candidate.

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If elected to the School Board of Manatee County, Chantal Wilford said she wants to use her 14 years of experience homeschooling her children to bridge the gap between the homeschool community and the district as well as be a voice for students and teachers. 

Her four children transitioned into the School District of Manatee County when they entered fifth grade.  

If elected, Wilford said she wants to focus on literacy, recruiting and retaining teachers, and expanding programming for students.

Wilford said she hopes to increase reading scores and have more students reading at grade level by emphasizing the learning of phonics, giving teachers the ability to use programs they think will work better for students and encouraging students to read topics that interest them.

“To my mind, it doesn’t matter if that’s a Lego catalog or a comic book,” Wilford said. “If they’re reading, they’re reading. If they’re interested, they’re invested in that activity, and that’s how they’re going to learn.”

To address teacher retention and recruitment, Wilford said the district needs to conduct face-to-face exit interviews to learn why teachers are leaving. She would like veteran teachers to be paid more and have the years they were teaching in other counties or states to count toward their position on the pay scale in the School District of Manatee County. 

“We are losing teachers who live here, who want to teach here because we don’t count their years when they’re not in Manatee County,” she said.

Although she supported the 1-mill referendum, Wilford said the district shouldn’t have salaries tied to the referendum.

“It’s extremely frustrating to have your salary determined every four years by a community vote,” Wilford said. “I’d like to see that change. I don’t know if that’s within the power of the school board because I know previous candidates have wanted to do the same thing and it hasn’t happened yet.” 

With the potential for a new superintendent, Wilford said the school board should conduct a national search to find the next leader of the district. 

“I think a national search does not preclude anyone local or at the state level,” Wilford said. “We need to look for someone who is innovative, imaginative. We need someone who thinks outside the box and who has a proven record with strengths in some of the areas we need to improve like literacy.”


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