Manatee school board may approve three new positions at Tuesday's meeting

BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School district may be hiring again for its administrative offices.

The district is proposing to hire a district level athletics coordinator, a specialist to work with infrastructure and a technician to work with Title I students. The three jobs and the job descriptions, proposed on the agenda for Tuesday's school board meeting, will need to be approved by the school board before moving forward.

The supervisor of athletics and physical education will serve as the liaison between the high schools, the district and the state. The supervisor will coordinate scheduling, contracts, coaches certification, budget allocations, facility usage, student eligibility determination, maintaining athletic handbooks, and supervise the athletic directors, according to the proposed job posting.

The position is budgeted at $74,460 and the supervisor would report to Cynthia Saunders, the executive director of secondary schools. This type of district-level position existed in the past, Saunders said, but hasn't existed in quite some time.

"Over time it was one of the positions that was eliminated then never filled," she said. "It is a very common position for most districts that are mid- to large-sized."

Athletic directors at each school operate independently and there is little support when a new athletic director comes in, Saunders said. As the district's student population and athletic offerings continue to grow -- the district signed a memorandum of understanding this year to add rowing and there's gaining momentum for the possibility of lacrosse, Saunders said -- the district needs to provide more support.

"We really need a full-time person," she said.

The position is designed to help develop, implement, and maintain IT standards, solution/design templates, governance processes, and procedures.

The budget for the position is $68,000 and the enterprise architect would report to Patrick Fletcher, the district's chief information officer.

Like an architect for a home, the enterprise architect will make sure all the different pieces and systems are working together correctly, Fletcher said.

"You really need somebody minding the store on the technical side," Fletcher said.

In a district this size, with all the different systems, an architect will help keep system flowing smoothly, Fletcher said. Many businesses of similar size have a similar IT position, he said.

To combat chronic absenteeism in the district's Title I schools, officials are proposing to create graduate enhancement specialists. The specialists work with school staff, students and parents. The specialists are expected to use data to identify students and create early warning systems for those who may be at risk.

The new position would be funded from Title I grants and would report to school principals.

Chronic absenteeism affects grade-level reading. Manatee County has joined a national campaign to keep students reading at grade level. After looking at the numbers with Title I principals and some other factors, Elena Garcia, director of Title I and federal grant programs, said a "confluence of events" led to creating this position.

"The data was pretty grim," Garcia said.

The absenteeism rate at Manatee County schools is 31 percent, and the absenteeism rate at non-Title I schools is 28 percent. The district has 25 Title I schools. The technicians will work with principals and school social workers to examine data and work with students and families on absenteeism, as well as other barriers.

If the jobs are approved by the board on Tuesday, the positions will be posted on Taleo, the district's hiring system.

In addition, the board is expected to promote two employees.

Mike Barber is set to replace Steve Valley as the director of communications and family and community engagement, pending board approval. Barber is a press relations print specialist and has been serving as the interim director since Valley left.

Tammy Taylor, the district's accounting manager, is set to become the director of finance, pending board approval. Rebecca Roberts was previously the finance director but was promoted to chief financial officer.

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