The dust has settled and Manatee County School Board chair Julie Aranibar has been ousted. Our new board, comprised of two educators, is charged with setting policy that affects 46,000 students, their families, school employees and the community.
For months we have been subjected to unprofessional behavior, bickering, pettiness, character assassination, arrogance and downright rudeness from the board -- toward each other and the community they were elected to represent. We expect more.
We ask that you get back to putting our children first. Yes, keep our financial house in order, but remember you are there to ensure a top education for every student in Manatee County. Education cannot be an afterthought.
Listen to your school leaders and teachers and use their knowledge about what's happening in our schools. The tone set by new district leadership has been that if you were not hired by Superintendent Rick Mills, you have nothing to offer. This has resulted in dozens of non-renewals, retirements and an exodus of educators to surrounding counties. The "brain drain" is incalculable.
Our teachers and principals can evaluate effectiveness of programs, curriculum, technology and excessive testing. Nothing is more effective than having an outstanding teacher in every classroom. To make that happen, teachers and principals need respect, support and encouragement.
Schools have accountability and we expect the same from district leadership. Please vet your district leaders and make sure they do not have arrest records or resumes with untruths. Those leading the district must be above reproach. They are to be role models for all school employees.
The old board and district administrators would not listen to those who came to board meetings or school leaders who have first-hand knowledge of what is really happening in schools. So change came at the ballot box. We look forward with an air of expectation.