School board OKs new charter school

Palmetto Charter School will take place of Palmetto Christian School

nalund@bradenton.comOctober 27, 2009 

BRADENTON — Goodbye, Palmetto Christian School; hello, Palmetto Charter School.

In a unanimous vote Monday night, the Manatee County school board approved the district’s newest charter school, which will be on the campus of Palmetto Christian School on 17th Street West. The 15-year-old private school, which serves about 185 students, is shutting its doors next year due to declining enrollment, said headmaster Bryan Bustle, who applied for the new charter.

The new school will open next August, he said, and its leaders anticipate it will serve more than 300 students.

“This is not a choice that comes easily to us,” said Bustle. “It’s never been in our heart to become anything but a Christian school, but because of a declining economy, this gives us the opportunity to continue serving students in our community.”

The school board Monday denied two other charter applications, Beatrice Smith Preparatory and New Path, because they did not meet state criteria, including having a five-year financial plan.

Five other schools had applied for a charter from the district, including Manatee Charter School. The board denied its application earlier this month, and the other four recently withdrew their applications, said Verdya Bradley, district supervisor of innovative programs and parental options.

Superintendent Tim McGonegal initially recommended the board deny the Palmetto Charter School application because it did not have a complete curriculum plan. The board, however, voted 5-0 to approve the charter.

“Of all the applications, this was the strongest,” board member Harry Kinnan said.

Board member Jane Pfeilsticker agreed there may be a few issues to work out, but said she felt comfortable with the vote.

“I’m happy we have had a group of local people who have done so well,” said board member Walter Miller. “I feel good about this school.”

Also Monday night, Chuck Banks was named the district’s new assistant director of human resources, making him the district’s newest double dipper, collecting both a pension and a salary. About 50 employs double dip, school leaders say.

Banks retired as principal at Miller Elementary on Sept. 30 after 35 years of service in the Manatee County school district. For his new job, he’ll be paid an annual salary of $72,793.

On top of that he’ll receive a $2,671.90 monthly pension, according to the state.

Also Monday, school board Attorney John Bowen said Diane Jackson, a teacher’s assistant at Sugg Middle School, resigned from her position. District officials say Jackson, 50, plagiarized paperwork while trying to earn her teacher’s certificate.

In other business, the board:

n Approved a new policy that forces convicted felons to wait 25 years after their conviction before they may apply to work in the district. People convicted of misdemeanor crimes will have to wait five or 10 years to apply, depending on the crime. Those who have been convicted of sex-related or child abuse crimes are ineligible to be hired.

n Appointed three new assistant principals: Joseph Hougland at Moody Elementary School; Rosa Daughtry at Southeast High School; and Rufus Floyd at Horizon’s Academy.

n Recognized Heather Johnson, a physical education teacher at Miller Elementary School, for being the recipients of the University of Virginia Curry School of Education’s 2009 Outstanding Teacher/Counselor Award for Prekindergarten through Elementary.

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