Reaction to Manatee School District recovery plan mixed

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New leadership is now trying to dig the Manatee County School district out of a huge budget mess.  Details of the financial recovery plan were released Monday.  So far 96 people from the district office and more 200 teachers were notified they wont have jobs next school year. 

"The situation is much more dire than I anticipated in my arrival here," said Manatee County Superintendent Rick Mills.  

For the last 3 years they have not met the state-mandated requirement to set aside 3% of the overall budget in the general fund.  A move that could result in state takeover.  But the district didn't just miss the funding requirement they also have a $38 million budget short fall.

"The financial crisis is so deep that there is no good way out," said former School Board member Jane Pfeilsticker.  And, to get in line with the state's financial requirements the district made the tough decision to let go of more than 3 hundred people.  Many of those positions are teachers that some say should have never been hired.

"2009 they turned off a program that monitored the hiring of employees and aligned it with the budget it was called potions control," said Pfeilsticker.

She added that at the time the board was not aware of the change.  The over-hiring has continued since then.  Now years and millions of dollars later teachers are paying the price for that decision.

"We're looking at our colleagues who have been non renewed, its tough to tell someone you're done a great job you were highly effective and were letting you go because this isn't about education its about money.  Its about cash," said Robert Moates a Manatee County teacher.

But despite the job loss Moates says teachers are trying to keep morale up for the children.

"They've been teachers who have been called down to the administration that said by the way you're not being renewed. I know its 10 am but you need to go back to your class and finish the day and they have to go back and finish the day because its not the kids fault," added Moates.

Another concern many say will affect the students is class size. This year there were 1000 elementary classes over the state's class limit and many say that number will increase with the cuts.  But the district says that is not the case.