This week the Manatee County school district begins work on the 2015-16 budget. Taxpayers expect fiscal accountability, while recognizing that an outstanding school system has a synergistic effect on property values, business sustainability and standards of living in our community.
Deputy Superintendent Don Hall is giving the board an opportunity for budget input, and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene is requesting a $21 million staffing increase for teachers, guidance clerks, library assistants, lab managers, reading paraprofessionals and permanent substitutes.
The big question is who is asking our principals and teachers to give their professional input and rank priorities from the trenches?
Who knows better the effects of the bus driver shortage that consistently results in student tardiness?
Who can describe the frustration at the lack of tech support and testing personnel, or the lack of adequate alternative school staffing to ensure campus safety from disruptive, out-of-control students?
Many newer schools do not even have complete media centers, so why add library assistants? Instead of a guidance clerk, maybe a school needs a full-time testing coordinator.
And how does the district save money by placing permanent substitutes at each school?
We hold our teachers and principals responsible for everything from school rankings to student conduct to graduation rates to student safety. What is needed at a school with 400 students may be different from a campus of 2,000.
Current district administration is known for "telling" schools what is needed, creating an elitist attitude and atmosphere of fear that neither solicits nor values the opinions of the professionals who work in the schools every day. Communication, teamwork and mutual respect are lacking.
Many organizational issues can be traced to a lack of procedures or lack of communication. It is not too late for the school district to rectify both situations.