BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School Board is asking the state to delay computer-based testing until all districts across the state have sufficient capacity to test students within the state-mandated window, among other issues, as part of the 2016 legislative platform put forward by Florida School Boards Association.
"We want the state to allow a pencil-and-paper alternative," board Chairman Bob Gause said, adding most districts in the state don't have enough computers to provide the testing.
The board discussed the statewide platform during its meeting Tuesday. The four-page document covers concerns over testing, funding, facilities, school choice and local governance. The docu
ment reiterates some proposals from last year and includes some new proposals.
With an earlier start to the legislative session this year, it was important for the board to discuss the issue Tuesday, Gause said.
New member John Colon suggested the board propose a compromise with the Legislature when it comes to computer-based testing by promising to work toward more computer-based testing in coming years as districts replace older computers with newer ones.
District officials need to show evidence they're working toward the goal, he said.
"That might be a proposal they could live with," he said.
Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said the district could probably go to all computer tests in about three years.
The board approved Gause elevating the proposal to the next level.
The board also approved a district testing calendar, authorized predemolition work at the former Manatee Technical College site on 34th Street West and tabled new policies concerning district staff because proposed changes did not get on the district website in time
A new state requirement this year to make sure students aren't tested too much means district officials must create, approve and send the state an assessment calendar setting out what tests are taken, by which students, during what time frames.
According to state legislation, the district cannot spend more than 5 percent of instructional time testing students.
$1 million demolition work
For a cost of $23,500, a company will do predemolition work at the former Manatee Technical College site on 34th Street West in Bradenton. The demolition will cost around $1 million total.
The site has been abandoned since 2013 when Manatee Technical College moved into a new campus on State Road 70. The site has become an eyesore, staff said, and while the board decides how to use the property, they agreed it was best to raze the site.
The board tabled new policies for district staff as part of a larger project to update all district policies for administration, teachers and staff.
"We had a bit of a hiccup to get the changes we made and talked about edited and available for the public to look at online," Gause said, explaining why he wanted to postpone the vote until a future meeting.
In other business, the board:
Settled a lawsuit with an employee who claimed she was discriminated against because of a disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The $6,000 settlement will be paid to Laura McCoy and is not an admission of guilt or liability on the board's part, according to the agreement.
Honored the Manatee High School Key Club for creating the first handicapped-accessible playground in Bradenton.
Honored the Haile Middle School robotics team, which includes students from Nolan Middle, and food service employees.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.