MANATEE -- Manatee County School District School Board chairwoman Julie Aranibar has filed for re-election to the District 5 seat.
Aranibar, who has served on the school board since 2010, filed the necessary paperwork Wednesday.
Already in the race for the District 5 seat is challenger Carlton "Les" Nichols.
The qualifying period for the election is June 16-20.
The school board primary is scheduled Aug. 26, and a runoff, if necessary, is Nov. 4.
"The focus for me is the turning around of the district," Aranibar said. "It start with new leadership."
In addition to the appointment of new Superintendent Rick Mills during her current term, Aranibar said the board also worked to put in place new legal and audit functions.
Aranibar was elected board chair Nov. 19.
Looking forward, Aranibar said she wants "for the district to be civilized and the focus now to be on education."
The last phase of the turnaround is to review school district policies, Aranibar said. A lack of policy or out-of-date policies are to blame for many of the district's challeng
es, she said.
"In 2010, I was the first voice to identify many of these problems," Aranibar said. "Many of our community leaders didn't believe it. We now have the audit findings that show the systemic demise of our district."
Aranibar said Mills' predecessor balanced the budget by cutting teacher pay.
"We ran deficits in accounts that by statute is not allowed," Aranibar said. "We now have a superintendent and board that is committed to compliance, and to the education of the children of the district."
Aranibar hopes to leave the board in better shape before leaving office, she said.
"I would like to see our county go back to the top percentage in the state," Aranibar said. "I believe we have put the right people in the right places to get there."
Nichols, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who now works for Argus Property Management in Sarasota, entered the race when he filed in August. Nichols had been waiting to see when the incumbent would file.
"I am not surprised. We all knew she was going to file," Nichols said. "It is going to be tough for her to explain the last four years."
Nichols recalled two top issues that Aranibar ran on: fiscal responsibility and recovery.
"She she didn't keep any of those promises," Nichols said. "She has to really answer for that."
Nichols said he has been campaigning for six months.
"I am looking forward to the race and I think it's going to fun," Nichols said. "I do think she does have a tough road ahead, but so do I. Hers is going to be a little more tough."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.