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Karen Carpenter announces her resignation from Manatee County School Board

gjefferies@bradenton.com

School board member Karen Carpenter announced her resignation from the school board on Tuesday.

Carpenter, 74, said she will be moving to Massachusetts to live with her children and grandchildren. Carpenter said she made the decision in February and told district personnel Tuesday.

Her last day will be June 1.

“Family trumps anything else, and they’ve been at me for three years to come back home. Since last June I have been on an airplane every weekend,” Carpenter said. “I’ve missed recitals, medical appointments, graduations and all sorts of stuff, and I don’t want to do that anymore, so I am going back to be with my family.”

Once Carpenter’s seat is vacated, Gov. Rick Scott will appoint a member to fill it for the remainder of her term. She would have been up for reelection in 2018.

Carpenter is the longest-serving member of the board. Elected in 2010, she helped steer the district through a fiscal crisis following the departure of former superintendent Tim McGonegal. She said helping establish an audit committee and setting up more community oversight of the district finances were among her proudest achievements.

“It’s about shepherding and safeguarding taxpayer money,” Carpenter said. “The (audit committee) is very important. Management does one thing, but you need somebody looking over people’s shoulders just as a watchdog.”

District Superintendent Diana Greene said she appreciated Carpenter’s devotion to watching the money.

“She has left a strong legacy of financial solvency,” Greene said. “I know that was one of the things she wanted to accomplish before leaving the school board, and I feel like she has done that.”

Board Chairman Charlie Kennedy said Carpenter had been a mentor to him, and that the board was losing a needed voice of experience with her planned departure.

“She probably has the most diverse background up there,” Kennedy said. “She’s been a teacher, she’s been a banker, so she has the most broad knowledge base. She would frequently surprise me with really thoughtful and probing questions.”

Carpenter said she would also miss her involvement with Take Stock in Children, The United Way Pals Reading Initiative and the Kiwanis club.

“I had a lovely time. I love the people I work with, so it has been very hard to make this decision,” she said. “If I hadn’t run for public office in 2010, I never would have met the wonderful people I met.”

Carpenter’s final school board meeting will be on May 23.

Ryan McKinnon: 941-745-7027, @JRMcKinnon

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