MANATEE -- A targeted spending freeze has been announced for the Manatee School District, which has been struggling to recover from millions of dollars in overspending.
Don Hall, deputy superintendent of the Manatee School District, announced the spending freeze in a memo to principals and department heads. The freeze started Monday and runs through June 30, according to the memo.
"As Superintendent (Rick) Mills shared with you last week, we have had some major successes even within a financially difficult period. However, he also shared that we would have to look at some additional measures to improve our final closing balance. As he further shared, we have the unknown costs of the state and federal audit findings pending, and we are still awaiting news of final disposition," Hall wrote in the memo, distributed on Friday.
Schools and department heads can request an exemption from the freeze for a specific purpose to support life, health and safety of students and staff.
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Exempt from the purchasing freeze are all state and federal grants, school internal funds, state and federal categorical funds, operational supplies, tools, and equipment for the maintenance and operations, custodial, transportation, and vehicle maintenance departments.
In 2012, the Manatee School District was rocked by the disclosure of a $3.4 million budget deficit, after which former Superintendent Tim McGonegal abruptly resigned.
The district has been strug
gling ever since to regain its fiscal integrity, and public confidence.
Mills, who was recruited to clean up the financial mess, says the district overspent its budget by $13 million in the last two years and may be penalized up to $10 million by the state.
School officials are considering an offer by Tampa-based developer Redstone Investments to buy a three-acre park adjacent to Jessie P. Miller Elementary School for $1.8 million. The offer has prompted intense opposition from neighbors of the school, retired teachers and others.
In response to the opposition to selling McKelvey Park, Mills is scheduled to meet with local residents 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria at Miller Elementary, 601 43rd St. W.
Michael Boyer, the district's chief financial officer, submitted his resignation last week effective June 27, to pursue other opportunities.
Calls to Hall and Boyer for comment were not returned by deadline on Monday.
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter: @jajones1.