Manatee school board chair Carpenter apologizes for MTI plaque outburst

eearl@bradenton.comJune 26, 2013 

MANATEE -- Manatee County school board Chairwoman Karen Carpenter issued an apology at the school board meeting Monday night over her reaction to the plaque at the new main campus for the Manatee Technical Institute.

"I want to apologize for how I addressed the issue of the plaque at MTI from February until now," Carpenter said. "I was overstepping my boundaries."

Carpenter said, while she still wants the plaque changed, she did not react in an appropriate and professional manner.

The plaque, which has been in storage, was reinstalled at the Manatee Technical Institute campus on State Road 70 last Tuesday, June 18.

Carpenter stood by her belief the plaque should be changed. The plaque lists the names of former school board members beneath the name of former Superintendent Tim McGonegal, who was superintendent when the construction contract was signed to begin work on the new campus. Carpenter took issue with McGonegal's name appearing on the plaque as well as its size and format.

Carpenter said leaving the plaque at Manatee Technical Institute as it is means the district is taking something meant to "honor the school and the community" and tainting it by memorializing a "disgraced" name that "took no responsibility" for the needs of the district.

School board Vice Chairwoman Julie Aranibar said Carpenter is not the only one who feels that way about the plaque, but was the only one to take action without the school board.

"The plaque memorializes people who wasted money," Aranibar said.

Carpenter requested the school board add the discussion of the plaque to the agenda, but the motion failed. The school board did not set a date for more discussion about it.

"We have bigger things to take care of," Aranibar said. "I had nothing to say."

The cost for a new plaque would be $3,200. To put a rush on the request would cost $5,456.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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