Will I have a job?
It’s the apprehensive question reverberating throughout parts of the Manatee School District family, a vibrant part of our community’s core and identity.
Such is the fallout from Monday night’s School Board meeting where Superintendent Tim McGonegal made his recommendations on budget cuts for the next school year.
They’re among the jobs vulnerable to McGonegal’s Plan A, $12 million in cuts that calls for eliminating 19 staff jobs -- but all those are now vacant positions. He’s also proposing furloughs for administrators, supervisors and managers, and outsourcing work that involves 50 jobs, almost all custodial.
In addition, principals would have to whack from $30,000 at elementary schools to $88,000 at high schools out of their own budgets.
That will not be easy.
McGonegal’s Plan B is for $16.9 million in cuts, addresses the school district’s mismanaged health care program and calls for deeper individual school budget reductions and additional furloughs.
It could’ve been worse.
A lot worse.
Teachers have been kept largely out of harm’s way, though their work environment grows increasingly demanding.
They’ll have to kick in more of their paychecks to their retirement pensions and health coverage, and lose income to furloughs.
Yet they do have their jobs.
Which is more than can be said for colleagues in other counties around the state.
If it’s any comfort, Manatee’s situation isn’t nearly as dire.
According to the latest figures in published reports, some border on disastrous:
n Broward County, the nation’s sixth largest school district, is staring at a whopping $144 million budget deficit, will lay off 1,400 teachers -- and will still be $81 million in the red.
n Palm Beach County has a $35.4 million budget deficit and may cut as many as 700 jobs but will spare teachers.
n Seminole County has a $10 million deficit, cut 200 jobs and will close an elementary school.
No doubt more of Florida’s 67 counties are facing similarly difficult choices.
We’ve got a governor and Legislature that insist they want a top-flight education system, yet turn around and cut $1.35 billion from schools.
They actually believe they did the right thing.
What a disgrace.
Now Manatee County’s school board has a hard choice to make.
Which plan will it be?
n The $12.1 million.
n The $16.9 million.
Pick your poison.
Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.