Mannix About Manatee: McGonegal had to fall on his sword

vmannix@bradenton.comSeptember 11, 2012 

Tim McGonegal fell on his sword Monday.

He had to.

It was the only way to go for the Manatee County school superintendent, whose resignation effective immediately was announced at Monday evening's school board meeting.

The dramatic development was just the latest in a chain of events that has staggered the school district and left the community wondering: What's next?

Last Wednesday when McGonegal announced his retirement effective early next year, there was little or no surprise.

Considering the mounting problems he had been trying to deal with since he took over in January 2009 -- budget cuts, a fractured school board, personnel problems, etc., etc., etc. -- it made sense.

What happened two days later did not.

When the other shoe dropped on Friday, it did so with a resounding crash.

A $3.4 million budget deficit?

Unbelievable.

McGonegal's forte was his financial acumen.

Crunching budget numbers was his meat and potatoes.

So how something like this could happen on his watch is difficult to understand.

Fifty-eight new teachers are hired and that's not calculated into the budget?

Whoa!

Who is responsible for this blunder?

With the school district's budget being tight as it is, you'd think they'd make sure every nickel and dime would be accounted for.

But $3.4 million?

Unbelievable.

Given the questions that have arisen over time about how the district spends our tax dollars, this inexplicable oversight absolutely warrants an audit from top to bottom.

Not in-house, either.

This demands scrutiny from an outside agency.

What about Chips Shores' Clerk of Circuit Court office?

Our community must have answers.

If ever there was a crisis of confidence in how our school system conducts its business, this is it.

McGonegal said Friday he'd made his decision to retire long before there was a hint of this whopping discrepancy.

One had nothing to do with the other, he said.

Human nature being what it is, people will suspect otherwise.

So McGonegal did what he had to do.

He fell on his sword.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix

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