MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- On the heels of a reported $13 million budget surplus and an effort to increase security in all elementary schools, the Manatee County School District appears to be starting the year off strong.
Monday was a busy day for Manatee County schools, kicking off the first day of school with nearly 47,000 students returning. And in an effort to welcome both students and staff, Superintendent Rick Mills stopped by seven schools throughout the county.
"It's important to be out in the schools as much as possible. I intend to spend a lot more time in the schools this year than last year, as we had several challenges we were dealing with," said Mills.
At Oneco Elementary, Mills visited a first grade classroom to get to know the students and a first-time teacher.
Principal Tina Stancil is excited for the boost in morale. "She's a first year teacher, and to me I think that's the most exciting thing. She's already all pumped up, and then to have the superintendent of schools walk into a room, I think that's going to be quite a moment."
And down the hall, for most of the VPK students, it's their first time in a classroom environment.
And when it comes to heightening security in Manatee County Schools, the district continues their plan to place a School Resource Officer in each elementary school.
This week, Manatee County schools are wrapping up the deadline for the RFP, or Request For Proposal, from the private security companies and moving forward with the process of choosing the right company. "We gave SRO's out there, short term, as we do our RFP for our contract for security guards in our elementary schools. We're excited about that."
They're also working on hiring a director of safety and security.