Recently there has been a resurgence of comments about Manatee County School Board dysfunction, fueled in part by the results of the climate survey recently conducted. Overlooked is what is actually happening in the district and with the board.
The board made conducting the survey a priority without concern for what the results said. The climate survey serves as a baseline. Using it, we can chart a path forward that will hopefully continue to improve the calmness, communication, cooperation, civility and sense of community that began in November and has increased under Superintendent Diana Greene's tenure.
The tone has been changing. Meetings have become more business oriented and less about personal agendas. Meeting length has been reduced significantly from the often five- to six-hour marathons of the past. Workshops are now focused on educational issues.
Much of the change has been the increasing civility board members are showing toward each other as well as the efforts by both the board and Dr. Greene's administration to work as a collegial body. The board spends more time celebrating our students, staff and understanding the educational initiatives going forward in the district.
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You can see that in the change from the turmoil that used to grace the front page to the stories now appearing about the district in the newspaper. Dr. Greene deserves much of the credit. Her focus and civility have set the tone for how staff is working with other staff as well as the public.
It also reflects on efforts by the board to reduce turmoil while improving morale and student performance. The budget this year was approved without issue.
Although I appreciate public advocacy, efforts will continue to address inaccurate or misleading statements made by members of the public.
That effort will continue to focus on the misstatement while not attacking the speaker.
It is a fine line and does open us to criticism. Regardless, we must deal with the misinformation being put out there by some as "facts."
This is not to say the board, the administration or the district are perfect. There will always be issues that require difficult decisions in order to keep the district heading in the right direction. To help accomplish this task, the board embarked on an effort to improve its leadership skills.
That process began with just the board and then expanded to include senior administrative members of the district. Over time, it will extend through the ranks of the district.
As discussed during the leadership training on Tuesday, there is a great deal of trust between the board and the current administration. The conversation was focused on maintaining and even increasing communication levels.
Despite these efforts, there will still be missteps and mistakes made. When they occur, it is my hope that people will monitor how the issue is handled rather than focus on the mistake itself.
As a community, let's continue to rally around the district and the students it serves.
Robert C. Gause, is the chairman of the Manatee County School Board.