Manatee School Board approves 2012-2013 budget

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BRADENTON- It has been a rough month for Manatee County's school system.

First, the news of a $9 million budget deficit, then the resignation of its Superintendent, Tim McGonegal. On Monday night, perhaps a ray of light for the district.

School Board members approved the budget for the 2012-2013 school year on Monday. By doing that, they reduce that deficit without making any drastic cuts in the classroom.

We are able to move forward now. It was a very positive step forward on finances tonight," said School Board Chairman Harry Kinnan.

Next year's budget won't require the district to layoff any teachers. However, they could lose their one percent bonuses.

Bonuses are still on the table. It's all subject to negotiation. Right now that money is still set aside," said interim Superintendent Bob Gagnon.

Also, as a way of saving money and filling the gap left by the deficit, the district will implement a hiring freeze for administrative positions. It will also reduce spending for school programs like the Amer-I-Can program designed to help troubled kids succeed.

District leaders are hopeful Monday night's news will help Manatee County residents see that the school system can succeed.

"We definitely have an issue with public trust and we have to move forward with that in my mind. We have to build back our public confidence and do a better job taking care of our employees," Gagnon said.

In other news coming out of the school district today, leaders released a list of a half of dozen law firms. One of those firms will be chosen to select a forensic auditor, who will investigate the deficit. The audit committee will be meeting next week to make its selection. It's unclear how much all of the work will cost the district.