Manatee school board approves doing away with early release Wednesdays

chawes@bradenton.comJune 11, 2012 

MANATEE — The Manatee school board Monday unanimously approved doing away with early release Wednesdays for the next school year.

The board also approved the contract extension for Schools Supt. Tim McGonegal to December 2014.

Board members Bob Gause and Harry Kinnan agreed with McGonegal that the early release tradition, started in 2007 to give teachers more time for planning and professional development, had not brought intended results of improved student achievement.

“We’ve given it five years,” Gause said, saying it was time to make a change.

In a 4-1 vote just before 11 p.m., board members approved McGonegal’s contract McGonegal’s contract extension from December 2013 to December 2014. Karen Carpenter voted against the measure. He had received overwhelmingly “effective” evaluations from four of five board members last week, with Aranibar instead ranking him as overwhelmingly “unsatisfactory.”

The school board spent 45 minutes Monday discussing three key administrative appointments before approving two and delaying one.

The board discussed the appointments of professional development director Chuck Fradley and Ballard principal Wendy Mungillo.

Lengthy discussions on both were generated by board member Julie Aranibar. The discussion also followed attorney John Bowen’s repeated advice that administrative appointments recommended by McGonegal could only be legally held up by the school board based on “just cause” that had to include evidence that a potential employee was not morally or professionally fit for the job.

Aranibar first questioned a newsletter Fradley had sent out while principal of Wakeland Elementary that included collective bargaining information. Aranibar joined her colleagues in unanimously approving Fradley’s appointment after McGonegal explained that Fradley’s comments had been misconstrued.

Aranibar also questioned Mungillo’s appointment, noting that Mungillo had not been renewed less than two years earlier as principal at Rogers Garden Elementary. Aranibar said she had received numerous phone calls questioning the selection of Mungillo as a principal.

Bowen reiterated that “an unspecified number of phone calls from unspecified people” did not qualify as just cause to question Mungillo’s appointment. McGonegal also said Mungillo had raised test scores at Orange Ridge Bullock Elementary during her time as that school’s principal, and a volunteer who worked with Mungillo at Rogers Garden said she had nothing but positive experiences with Mungillo.

Eventually, Mungillo’s appointment was approved by a 4-1 vote with Aranibar as the sole “nay.”

The appointment of Sheryl Riker as director of transportation was delayed by McGonegal after some bus drivers raised concerns earlier in the evening about morale among drivers. McGonegal said he wanted time to explore the concerns, which he said were being brought to his attention for the first time Monday.

The board approved without discussion numerous other appointments including several new principals.

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