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pinion Letter to the Editor: School District Needs to Reverse Course


Dear Editor:
The door of the financial mess at the Manatee County School District has been cracked open and thus far revealed unbudgeted funds were spent without board approval. Doing something dishonest the first time is the hardest. Once that first decision has been made, the following decisions are generally easier because they are just a continuation of the first. Soon, you have a slippery slope and most anything goes. We need to know what happened.
Historically, the MCSD has spent more and achieved less. The following numbers are derived from published MCSD financials documented in my book, “Government of Deceit”.
Operating expenses for 2009 – 2010 equaled $11,000+ per student. BUT, depending on the class size, only 21 – 30% ended up in the classroom. Where did the rest of the money go? Overhead. While there were roughly 3,600 working “in the schools”, roughly 3,400 were “somewhere” in the district.
Capital spending from 2000 – 2010 equaled $2.5+ BILLION or $60,000+ per student. A rough calculation indicates only a third could have actually been spent on capital items, leaving roughly $1.7 BILLION. Where did the money go? Some have indicated that we should not spend the money to find out. Why? Could it be that some “important” county people got very rich at taxpayers’ expense?
Based on the FCAT (http://fcat.fldoe.org/mediapacket/2012/default.asp), MCSD largely scores in the bottom quartile. 
MCSD is at an interesting place – high costs, bad results, but new leadership. New leadership should take the district in an entirely new direction and become a model for the state. It should “reinvent” the district putting the emphasis where it should be – IN THE CLASSROOM. See www.ReinventK-12.com for a plan. With the emphasis in the classroom, students would be better prepared, overhead could be slashed and the tax burden cut dramatically.
Patrick D. McConnell
Holmes Beach


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