HOLMES BEACH -- The Anna Maria Elementary Parent Teacher Organization discussed Tuesday how to raise money to bring back a laid-off staff member.
The plan follows in the wake of 182 teacher layoffs made earlier this year as part of the Manatee County School District's financial recovery plan.
Anna Maria Elementary parents are particularly concerned with the loss of the school's physical education coach Eric Boso, known as
Anna Maria Elementary parent Karen Riley-Love called Boso an "invaluable resource" to the school. She said the PTO is exceptionally passionate about rehiring Boso.
"Coach B is the school's eyes and ears," Riley-Love said. "He knows everyone, and he has both educational value and works hard to provide extra services."
Riley-Love said fund-raising to rehire a teacher may not be the best idea but it is the reality.
"People think of us as a privileged school but we are a community school," Riley-Love said. "The business partners, island residents and parents are willing to make sure the school stays excellent. We have to step up."
The PTO chose to rehire Boso as an independent contractor rather than a full-time teacher. Hiring Boso as an independent contractor will cost around $40,000 versus $60,000 as a full-time employee.
If enough money is raised, the school will offer Boso a week-to-week or month-to-month contract.
Bose will serve as a part-time aide to a full-time employee. The position would be open to the public, too.
"He could possibly reapply at some point to regain his full-time position," said Monica Simpson, president of the Anna Maria PTO. "It's a bit of a crapshoot, but the odds are there."
While Simpson agreed $40,000 is a lot to pay an assistant for a physical education class, the community passion to bring Boso back is evident.
"He has high propensity," said Anna Maria Elementary Principal David Marshall. "We would not like to slight any teachers, but we would be looking for the best person for that position, and right now, Coach B is the best."
Boso said he was humbled and amazed at how hard the PTO is working to get him back.
"It means everything for them to step up and want to do that," Boso said. "I was confident in my abilities before, but this confirms that I have been doing the right thing."
Fund-raising ideas include a weekend island festival and reaching out to big businesses and big names in the community for matching donations.
"Make a couple calls to heavy hitters," said Commissioner David Zaccagnino. "It wouldn't be hard to find 40 people to donate $1,000. Some of these donors aren't interested in bake sales and carnivals."
The PTO also discussed having restaurants donate a percentages of sales since so many island eateries have close ties to the school.
Boso said being a physical education teacher is personal. When his oldest son was diagnosed with autism, Boso said he used physical activity, sports and play to help him turn his life around.
"He is high-functioning and is in regular education, but had developmental issues," Boso said. "He could not even walk up and down stairs."
Boso put his son into occupational therapy, involved him in sports and helped him work out. His son, now 14 and preparing to enter the eighth grade, also plays in basketball leagues.
Boso said he is dealing with the uncertainty of getting his job back and must do what he must to support his wife and two children
"I would like to know if they are bringing me back as soon as possible for peace of mind," Boso said. "It is rough not knowing what is ahead."
Simpson said there is no set deadline to raise the money and there are no guarantees.
"If a job came up they said they would understand, but so far that has not happened. It's just been closed doors," Boso said. "The frustrating thing is that I put in four years with the county, and now have to have people step up for me. But I want to come back."
Boso said his loyalty has been with Anna Maria Elementary since he and his family moved to Florida from Ohio six years ago. Boso said he does not know how much to be involved in the job rescue and is just waiting to hear what happens.
"I have never seen a group of parents more involved in a school," Boso said.
Erica Earl, education reporter, cam be reached at 941-745-7081.