MANATEE -- Manatee County Schools Superintendent Rick Mills reminded teachers and parents in a recorded phone message Wednesday night that the district's finances are bleak and that layoffs are coming.
The EdConnect message, which did not provide any details or even a timeline of when decisions will be made, left teachers and parents wondering whether something new was happening.
In April a transition team brought in to help Mills reorganize the district recommended the district cut 180 jobs to meet its budget. That team is set to make its final recommendations on June 1.
The text of the Wednesday night message seems to signal something new:
"Although I have been in Manatee County less than two months, it is my responsibility to help lead our school system back to a state of financial health so we can redirect more dollars back into our classrooms and to our great employees.
"Because of a lack of fiscal discipline and controls, our school district has hired too many employees over the last several years. For example, we have hired so many teachers that our district's class sizes are lower than the state's Class-Size Amendment requires, and our academic performance is still lagging behind most of the state.
"This overstaffing has cost the school district millions of dollars a year and placed an unsustainable strain on the financial health of our school system.
"Therefore we must realign the staffing needs of our school district to be both fiscally sound, and strategically appropriate. While attrition will account for part of the realignment, it will not count for all.
"This is a difficult, but necessary decision. I will be sending a letter to each of you soon through our schools, explaining more about this realignment process. Thank you for your time and support as we work to make the Manatee County School District the best in Florida."