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Manatee School Board Gains Momentum on Initiating Review of District's Policies and Procedures

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BRADENTON – At Monday's Manatee School Board workshop, momentum was gained on the issue of reviewing the school district's policies and procedures - an issue that has long been considered both very important and slow to progress. 

At the subsequent regular meeting on Monday evening, the board was slated to vote on approving one out of two consulting firms that would assist and counsel the district with a full review of its policies and procedures. 

That vote did not take place, as it was postponed after board member David Miner made a successful motion to do so, for the purpose of waiting until more discussion could be had and more information about one of the firms could be gained.

The one firm that was present at the workshop, NEOLA (Northeastern Ohio Learning Association), Inc., made its case to board members on why it should be hired. The other firm, EMCS (Educational Management Consultant Services), Inc., was unable to make the workshop meeting due to a previous commitment.  

Tom Young, a consultant for NEOLA, advised the board that his company, which currently consults for 17 school districts in Florida, in addition to districts in several other states, said that the service provided by his company would be assisting the board in a "complete review of your entire policy manual, and the revision of your current policies to bring them into compliance with federal and state law and US and Florida Dept. of Education rules and regulations." 

He added that the board would be assisted in "developing new policies required by law, and in developing and implementing procedures (to enact those policies). Procedures are typically more specific than the policies, which are typically more generic." 

Young also said that the board would be entitled to take as much time as needed to complete review and implementation, and that such a process can typically take 8 months to a year.

While members of the board expressed support for eventually hiring one of the two prospective firms, not everyone at the later meeting was in agreement. 

Activist Linda Neely, speaking during Public Comments, said that the review should be done internally, "I would think that between our teaching staff, our parents, our students, and you all, that you could create (a revised policies and procedures manual) yourselves ... instead of talking to us, you're going to spend our money to hire an outside firm to do the manual and to do yearly updates to that manual," she said.

The hiring of the winning bidder for consulting the district on the matter is likely to happen in September.

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