Manatee County School District to add 50 new teachers to handle student growth

mdelaney@bradenton.comSeptember 3, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Manatee County School District officials will transfer 22 teachers and plan to hire about 28 more to handle an nearly 1,200 additional students for the 2014-15 year.

The 10-day count sets Manatee's enrollment at 47,153, up from 45,958 students at the same time last year, an 1,195-student increase. A five-day count placed district enrollment at 46,807. The 10-day count showed 346 more students.

Every area of the district grew in the 10-day count, except enrollment in alternative education sites.

"Growth in our student population is a positive sign for our schools and community," Superintendent Rick Mills said in a statement. "Now that we know what the numbers are for the start of this school year, we can take the necessary steps to make sure we have the necessary resources to accommodate the growth."

District officials will look at schools with the biggest drops when transferring teachers to areas of higher growth, said district spokesman Steve Valley. Which teachers will be moved and where has yet to be decided, Valley said.

At the elementary level, Gullett gained the most students, adding 114, while Palm View dropped 70 students compared with the 10-day count last year. At the middle school level, Buf

falo Creek gained the most students, adding 121, while Sugg dropped 46 students compared to last year's numbers. Lakewood Ranch High School saw an increase of 183 students year-to-year, while Manatee High School dropped 31.

The district's charter schools saw an increase of 147 students compared to the 10-day count last year and the district's "special" schools, which include the virtual schools, dropped by 113 students, the only area to lose students.

Buffalo Creek Middle School is set to see six new positions based on the growth, said Anthony Losada, the school's principal. This year's projection for the school was 957 students, but in the first 10 days the school saw 1,089 students.

With all the construction in the area, Losada said he wasn't too surprised.

"We did expect to see the growth," he said.

Board member Bob Gause questioned the process for determining student enrollment during a board meeting last week, when the five-day enrollment count showed district enrollment was up almost 1,000 students. Gause advocated for a more proactive internal approach before the school year starts so the district is better equipped to handle growth and lessen disruption.

"We might be able to help ourselves," Gause said. "As a systemic thing I'd like to see if we can look at that."

As the enrollment continues to grow, the district may have to take a broader look at the district's schools and the communities they serve.

Palmetto High School is serving an additional 158 students this year.

In her campaign materials, current board chair Julie Aranibar advocates for a new high school to accommodate the growing Parrish/Palmetto/Ellenton area. Aranibar is facing Mary Cantrell in a run-off election for the District 5 seat in November.

The school district counts the number of students on the fifth day of school and again on the 10th day to get a gauge of growth or decline in the student population.

The state uses the information to help determine funding. School districts across Florida also take annual student counts in October and February that are used to determine the actual number of students in each district for the purposes of state funding.

Fluctuations in student populations are a regular occurrence as families move in and out of the state, or from one county to another, district officials said.

Information for teacher hiring is available on the district's paperless applicant tracking site. The positions also will be posted on Career Source Suncoast. The district will contact qualified substitutes, those who have previously filled out applications and new applicants when filling open positions. District representatives have already reached out to local colleges and universities, as well.

In addition to hiring more teachers, the district will need to hire and train six new bus drivers and two new attendants to handle six additional routes. Interested bus drivers can call 941-781-1287.

Manatee County School District enrollment grew last year as well. After 10 days of the 2013-14 school year, the district enrolled almost 1,000 more students than anticipated, according to Herald archives, with 46,008 students, up from a projected enrollment of 45,343.

The district hired an additional 85 teachers last year to accommodate increased enrollment.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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