Manatee schools superintendent to Crist: Veto SB 6

BRADENTON — Superintendent Tim McGonegal today sent a letter to the governor asking him to veto the controversial teacher tenure bill.

“Please do not place more of a burden on the backs of our teachers during these difficult days when they are constantly being asked to accomplish more with less,” McGonegal wrote Gov. Charlie Crist. “Please don’t give your endorsement to this divisive and flawed bill.”

In the two-page letter, he informs Crist that on Wednesday concerned parents, students, teachers and others across Manatee County plan to rally on Main Street in Bradenton to demonstrate their opposition to the bill. If signed into law this week, it will dramatically change the way teachers are evaluated and paid.

The bill, approved by the House and Senate, will place new teachers on annual contracts, link pay raises to student test scores and require school districts to divert 5 percent of their budget into a performance fund maintained by the Florida Department of Education.

Manatee County school administrators would be required to set aside $14 million in the budget, a move that some fear would mean cuts in areas like music and art classes.

District officials already are expecting to slash the upcoming school year’s budget by $15 million.

“There are many valid reasons being offered for opposing this particular piece of legislation, but let me give you the reason I believe is most compelling – the timing simply couldn’t be worse,” McGonegal wrote. “The additional cut in state funding resulting from enactment of (Senate Bill 6) will force our district to eliminate elective offerings and other essential services to our students.”

McGonegal said the bill is flawed and goes against the Constitution of Florida by taking away control from the local school board.

“The elected school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district, yet SB 6 usurps this authority by interfering with the collective bargaining process, specifying salary requirements, imposing prerequisites on the hiring and retention of employees, and tampering with the budgeting and expenditure of funds garnered from local property tax levies,” he wrote. “Please veto SB 6.”

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