It has become increasingly obvious that the Manatee County School Board and the superintendent/board attorney tandem are not on the same page and perhaps not even speaking the same language. If there was any question of the inability of the five board members to work together with the odd couple pairing of McGonegal/Bowen , Monday’s disagreement dispelled any remaining doubts.
In an attempt to put this matter to rest and end a heated discussion, the board made a fair compromise offer, which split the difference between Jane Dreger’s current salary and her proposed salary. The superintendent dug in his heels and did not budge an inch.
In many districts, this would be the beginning of the end for the superintendent. The public will be interested to see how this matter is resolved. If the board caves in, their shaky credibility will be damaged still further. If the superintendent relents, no one will think less of him because they understand that he reports to the board. There is more at stake here than $5,000 for an administrator.
County residents expect these seven highly visible adults to act responsibly, and most do not equate compromise with weakness. They also expect them to spend their time on more serious matters, such as working with consultants to cut school costs (Sarasota is doing so now) or trying to reduce the number of portable classrooms, as promised. The latter problem is particularly vexing, since there are upwards of 7,000 vacant students stations presently scattered throughout our schools. This is a tough number to explain, particularly when the public sees the superintendent ego-jousting instead of problem-solving.
The board and superintendent are currently adversarial rather than collaborative at a time when the governor, legislature, and economic circumstances are aligned against Manatee County. We have divided ourselves and are ripe to be conquered.