Manatee parents and students protest cuts, support teachers

5:42 PM, May 20, 2013   |    comments
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Bradenton, Florida - On the job for less than two months, and the new Manatee County School Superintendent is facing close to a $15 million shortfall. On the chopping block are teachers's jobs... and lots of them.

Manatee superintendent Rick Mills says the district has not been financially healthy for at least three years and it's time to realign the budget, but parents say they don't want the cuts made in the classroom.

Dozens of Manatee parents and students turned out in support of their teachers before a Manatee County School Board workshop, with signs thanking their teachers.

Tracey Rosa has two children in a Manatee County public school. She says, "We want them to know we stand by them and we support them. We are here for them we don't want them to lose their jobs."   

Matt Fall is supporting his wife, a first grade teacher. Fall says, "We're concerned and worried... we're a two income family."

"We know we are a district in financial crisis," says Mills. He reminds the school board it's a crisis the district can budget itself out of with some hard decisions. Mills recommends cutting 182 teaching positions, a $3.7 million savings.  

Mills says in previous years the district hired too many teachers, so many classroom sizes are below the state mandate and schools are not being efficiently used.

Rosa says, "Adults made those mistakes. Our children and teachers should not have to pay for those mistakes. These people made these. They are our future, we can't let them down like this."

"I think these cuts are too deep," says Fall.

Mills' budget cut proposal adds up to more than $20 million in savings for the district. The school board will hash out the numbers throughout the summer and take its first vote in September.

Isabel Mascarenas

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