Manatee County school district up in rankings

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A sign of improvement for Manatee County schools: The district has moved up three spots in a state-wide ranking of school districts.

The district was ranked 37th out of 67 districts— up from a ranking last year of 40. The state rankings are based on student performance on state accountability tests.

Rick Mills, superintendant of the Manatee County district is proud of this significant increase within a year. "We’ve had 24 well-known schools here that have gone up one letter grade, and 7 of those 24 went up two letter grades.

One of those schools moving up two letter grades is Daughtrey Elementary School.

"Our school moved from an "F" to a "C," so we did participate in an increase of the district score in the state; and to do that we had to buy in to the leadership here in Manatee County."

Part of that leadership included the district's 18-million dollar turnaround through the fiscal recovery plan that was implemented last summer.

"Cost efficiencies, the sale of properties, elimination of programs, the closing of central high school; those types of decisions were made so we can balance our budget this year."

And in the new school year, starting in less than a month, the district will be implementing teacher collaboration teams using data and assessment focused on a specific grade level. They'll also implement instructional leadership teams that will focus on class curriculums—as well as other programs that will grade the system as a whole.

"We did implement an assessment tool that gave us visibility throughout the year in how we were doing in accordance to the benchmarks in pacing and rigor. Also our students were making adjustments throughout the year.”

The district also held a principal leadership academy today to help principals and assistant principals to be more effective as leaders.

It will be a busy school board meeting tomorrow night in Manatee County. Board members are expected to discuss whether to give Robert Gagnon 116 thousand dollars in back pay. The former assistant superintendent was recently cleared of failure to report child abuse charges, related to the Rod Frazier case.

An administrative judge also ruled that the school district failed to prove that Gagnon violated any law or district policy.

Also at tomorrow's meeting, the school board is expected to renew a contract with two Domino's Pizza locations to deliver to secondary schools. That contract is worth a reported 675 thousand dollars.