News Section: Schools and Education
New School Board Promises Reform in the Face of Major Challenges
BRADENTON – At Tuesday's school board meeting, what may prove to be a significant change took place as the board elected its new chair and vice chair. Newly-elected member David Miner, who has spent years behind the dais during public comments at meetings, took his new place in front of it after he and the reelected Robert Gause were sworn in.
New School Board Chair Karen
Karen Carpenter was elected Chair, and Julie Aranibar took the former's place as Vice Chair. Mr. Miner and Ms. Carpenter spoke of reform and more transparency in how the board conducts its business, and interim superintendent David Gayler gave supporting remarks.
The mood of the meeting was one of celebration and optimism, as family members and supporters of Messrs. Gause and Miner were in attendance for their oath-taking, and board members, along with Dr. Gayler, addressed citizens and their fellow colleagues with pledges to help build a more efficient and united school district for the county.
The new mood was in stark contrast to the tension that had cloaked meetings ever since the board announced in September that a $3.5 million deficit had been "discovered" in the 2012-2013 budget, despite that financial watchdogs had openly claimed the existence of a deficit for nearly a year prior.
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Gayler assured Mr. Miner that the pledge for more transparency, which Mr. Miner centered his election campaign on, would be "built into" the district - something that many others, including longtime financial watchdog Linda Schaich, who lost her campaign bid in a race against Mr. Gause, have also called for.
It was Mrs. Schaich who, after congratulating Mr. Miner and expressing hope for the new board, disagreed with the wisdom of more "unity" in cooperation that was the premise of many a board member's pledge for the night. She said the board should not feel the need to vote together on everything, instead offering a different ideal: "A democratic board that listens to all opinions respectfully, and then the majority will be the deciding factor." She emphasized the word "respectfully," saying that "in the past, those who disagreed were discredited." Mrs. Schaich ended her remarks by addressing the board's future, saying she will remain hopeful and watchful.