Public hearings on Manatee schools superintendent search end

kbergen@bradenton.comOctober 17, 2012 

MANATEE -- The school board's public hearings on the search for a new district superintendent wrapped up Tuesday evening at Palmetto High School in an auditorium that barely held 8 people.

About 30 attended Monday's hearing at Manatee High School, where several speakers called for a leader who will support teachers.

Sugg Middle School reading teacher Daria Zoller said teacher morale is at an all-time low as a result of pay cuts and health insurance cost increases that make it harder to make a living.

"It's harder than ever to come in and say, 'Yeah, I'm going to keep doing this," Zoller said.

The superintendent, she said, must be capable of motivating and uniting teachers.

Linda Boone, a Manatee High School teacher, said she's seen superintendents come and go since the 1970s.

The superintendent must be a "communicator, collaborator and consensus-builder," she said, and help the district have a common vision.

"If someone sits in a district building downtown, they don't always know what's going on down here," Boone said.

Retired Manatee County educator Glenna Shields echoed these comments at the Palmetto hearing. Great teachers are leaving the district, she said, and those that have stayed struggle to do

more with less.

"I would like a superintendent and I would like a board who gets out into the schools and listens to the teachers," Shields said. "Something good used to happen every day, and I want to see that again."

The board meets this Monday for a workshop with Florida School Boards Association executive director Wayne Blanton, who will help the board establish criteria and timelines for their superintendent search. Blanton will compile the comments from the public hearings and help the board incorporate the community's input, Board Chairman Harry Kinnan said.

Katy Bergen, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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