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Number of Title I schools in Manatee soars

BRADENTON — The number of Title I schools in Manatee County is increasing from 10 to 21, Superintendent Tim McGonegal announced Monday night.

In response, the school board approved the hiring of four new administrator positions to oversee services at those newly designated schools.

At a Title I school, a majority of students qualify to receive free or reduced price meals because of economic status.

Board member Barbara Harvey said more kids in Manatee need free lunches because their parents are out of work.

The board voted 5-0 to create the four full-time positions, which will be funded by federal stimulus dollars.

Of the positions, two will be No Child Left Behind specialists, one will be a coordinator of research and evaluation, and the last will be a family and parental involvement educator, said board member Jane Pfeilsticker.

The estimated salary and benefits for all four positions total $267,800. They will exist just for the two years the district receives stimulus money, McGonegal said.

Harvey stressed that funding for the positions will not come out of the district’s budget.

Earlier Monday, State Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, addressed the board and congratulated the district for 51 percent of its schools receiving an A grade.

According to data released by the Florida Department of Education, 28 of 55 district schools received the state’s highest grade based upon student performance and the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

“To do that in times like these is tremendous,” Galvano said.

He also updated the board about the 2009 legislative session and reminded them that if Gov. Charlie Crist signs the gaming bill, the effect would be $300 million toward education for the first year.

Negotiations are underway and Crist has until Aug. 31 to decide, Galvano said.

“Hopefully that will come to fruition,” Galvano told the board. “My prediction is that it will.”

Galvano also said he is looking to get more funding for technology schools in the district.

“There is more to be done and I am looking forward to working with you on that,” he said.

Board members thanked Galvano for his efforts with local schools.

“You have been a friend to education on many levels,” board Member Harry Kinnan said.

Prior to that, the Manatee Education Foundation presented Galvano with a plaque for his outstanding public efforts in education in Manatee County. One effort this year included the Galvano Classic, a golf tournament that raised more than $182,000 for education locally.

In other developments:

n New principals were hired: Willie Clark, Palmetto High; Matt Gruhl, Buffalo Creek Middle; Ron Hirst, Bashaw Elementary; Norma Scott, McNeal Elementary and James Mennes, Freedom Elementary. More hires: Mike Wilder as coordinator of school leadership development for the district and Angela Fraser as district director of finance.

n The board chose a K-8 Virtual Education Program provider: K12 Florida LLC out of Jacksonville. Parents who wish to enroll their children into the school can do so by contacting the district’s parent information center.

n A public hearing was scheduled for July 27 to discuss a proposed new rule regarding the new state custody law and how educational decisions will be made for students whose parents are divorced or involved in custody disputes.