Sarasota County Teacher’s Union and community respond to new Superintendent contract

Sarasota County Teacher’s Union and community respond to new Superintendent contract

SARASOTA (WWSB) - In a three to two vote, the Sarasota County School Board approved a new, four year contract for Superintendent Dr. Todd Bowden.

This was despite 11 out of 13 community members speaking out passionately against it during a School Board meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Now, members of the Union are speaking out to say they aren’t happy either.

“I think everybody was disgusted that democracy was undone yesterday,” said Barry Dubin, executive director of the Sarasota Classified/Teachers’ Association.

It’s the Union that paid for an ad in the Herald Tribune days before the meeting, calling the community to voice any concerns that Superintendent Todd Bowden will get a four year contract, while teachers are still evaluated annually.

“It was among the wildest meetings I’ve ever seen," Dubin said. "And we didn’t ask our people to show up. Understand, this whole thing was set up purposefully to keep our people from having input.”

Dubin said their voices weren’t heard because they weren’t in attendance.

“Remember, teachers teach kids? They can’t get there for a 3 o’clock meeting," Dubin explained. "[The board] knew that full and well.”

It’s a disconnect several community members noted, too.

“We’re not all connected and we’re not on the same page and we’re not doing this for the betterment of the students and our children," said Caprill Hembree, a Sarasota County School District parent of three. "We’re making decisions based on what we, as individuals on the Board, want. Not what the community as a whole is hoping to have happen.”

The Superintendent’s base salary will increase to $197,000 on July 1. Dr. Bowden will get an additional $5,000 per year after, through June of 2023 when his contract ends.

It will now also take the vote of four out of five board members to fire him if need be, with or without reason. In addition to his salary, Dr. Bowden will be given a $12,500 annuity and $650 per month vehicle stipend.

“Really, at the end of the day it’s track record," said Dr. Todd Bowden after the vote. "It’s performance. We have to serve the kids of Sarasota and I just hope that at the end of the day, that’s how I’m judged and that’s how each School Board member is judged, is based on our outcomes.”

The two members who voted against this contract were Bridget Ziegler and Eric Robinson, but despite the controversy, the Superintendent said he’s excited and ready for these four years working for a School District he truly cares about.

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