Miner, Foreman View School District Record Differently

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY OCT 15, 2020

Dave “Watchdog” Minder said his eight years on the Manatee County School Board show what he can provide the voters in a third term. But opponent Mary Foreman said that’s exactly the problem.

It’s an argument that voters will hear until the Nov. 3 elections. Miner touts his experience putting together a district-wide budget, his knowledge of how to lobby lawmakers in Tallahassee, his history of doing his homework on every recommendation from the Superintendent’s Office.

“Having my watchdog oversight on many matters helped us to avoid the disaster that occurred eight years ago when the school district had a negative fund balance, which led to our academic suffering and our teachers leaving,” he said. “I hope to prevent that happening again by having enough voters realize my experience and credibility are very important.”

But Foreman, who emerged as the top challenger for Miner when the two emerged from a four-candidate primary in August, said Miner’s record has been one of disruption. He got into an altercation with another Board member that police investigated, mishandled controversies around Lincoln Memorial Academy’s charter and fundamentally doesn’t understand priorities for the budget.

“The experience he has had, I would be suspicious of it,” she said. “When he was a chairperson, he had difficulty conducting meetings. When he was chair of the Central Florida Public School Board Coalition… my understanding is he needed a lot of assistance to conduct the meetings. As far as his work in Tallahasee, I have no idea how effective it was.”

Foreman for her part has served on the school district’s Audit Committee since 2013, including a stint as chair. She said a familiarity with a $592 million budget won’t be a problem.

Miner before his time on the board was a local activist keeping an eye on Board issues himself, once even suing the district to get access to real estate appraisals on land the district considered purchasing.

He dismissed concerns about friction between himself and colleague Scott Hopes, whom he was once accused of trying to run down in a parking lot; police investigated the matter and found no reason for charges. He suggested it’s actually a good thing the board isn’t represented by one philosophy and that tensions lead to better decision-making. But Foreman sees Miner as confused about some of the basic needs of the district.

Foreman also disagrees with the decision the Board made to hire Superintendent Cynthia Sanders internally, despite a state investigation on finances. The candidate doesn’t want a contract extension approved and would rather conduct a national search, encouraging Sanders to apply. Miner, though, said Sanders has done outstanding in the job, and effectively firing the district leader would be a mistake.

One point of contention in the race, Miner said he’s a strong supporter of a tax put in place by voters to raise revenue and keep competitive salaries. He recalls a time before when the neighboring Sarasota District poached a state Principal of the Year over summer vacation. “That’s when I really resolved this nonsense had to stop,” he said. Proving a comparative education to neighbors requires the ability to offer competitive salaries to talent.

Foreman said she voted for that tax, but that it’s a mistake to fund salaries that way. For one thing, the referendum approving the millage hike barely passed. If renewal fails, teacher salaries must be cut. “We should be making teacher compensation a priority and paying it first out of our core budget,” she said. She wants to reset the budget structure, including cutting other district overhead. If that doesn’t happen before the tax sees the ballot again, she will vote for an extension— reluctantly.

 

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