Manatee parents want school district to focus on teaching, learning

PALMETTO -- After a survey showed community members want greater focus on teaching and learning, the Manatee County School District budgeted 12 percent more for instructional services this year than last year.

"We are heavily leveraged toward teaching and learning," said Robert Johnson, district director of planning and performance management.

That's just one example Johnson gave of how district officials took community feedback into account during the recent budget cycle.

Johnson and other district officials began a six-stop tour Wednesday of Manatee County schools, beginning with Buffalo Creek Middle School, to discuss the 2013 "Shaping The Future Together" survey and how results were incorporat

ed into the 2014-15 strategic plan and the budget.

Johnson and Heather Jenkins, director of budget, spoke with about 15 community members for about 10 minutes during the School Advisory Council meeting in the media center.

"We promised we'd come back and let you all know the results and what happened," Jenkins said.

The district is midway through the 2014-15 budget, and the meetings are a way to show the community what was done to meet each survey priority outlined, officials said.

District officials used survey results as an explanation for putting private security guards in district elementary schools at the beginning of the school year. The community survey referenced safety and security but did not specifically request posting private security officers in the schools.

Survey results will continue to be implemented and some goals, such as having more secure schools, are under way but may not be finished in one fiscal year, Jenkins said.

"A lot of these items, too, we will continue into the next budget years," Jenkins said.

Community members in attendance posed no questions.

The rest of the meetings:

4 p.m. Jan. 27 in the Harllee Middle School media center;

5 p.m. Feb. 2 at Lincoln Middle School media center;

7 p.m. Feb. 5 in the Lakewood Ranch High School media center;

6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in the King Middle School media center; and

5 p.m. Feb. 12 in the cafeteria at Rogers Garden Elementary School

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.