SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Protesters rallied Tuesday afternoon outside the entrance to the school board meeting room. They are upset over the board’s decision to cancel a grant application for Gocio Elementary, a school that earlier received approval from the board to become Sarasota County’s first Community Partnership School.
“It brings agencies and programs in the community for a 25-year commitment," said Carol Lerner, Chair of Protect Our Public Schools. "So it provides wraparound services such as medical services, dental service, vision services, counseling services.”
Community Partnership Schools have students that are underprivileged. Protesters say right now there are about a dozen schools in Sarasota County that meet that criteria.
School board members say they cancelled this grant application for the time being because of the leadership transition taking place since Superintendent Todd Bowden recently stepped down.
“Dr. Bowden was a strong advocate for this program and that’s what it takes, it needs a strong advocate at the top and we have to make sure that that’s what our new superintendent wants,” said Shirley Brown, Vice Chair of the Sarasota County School Board.
University of Central Florida would have provided an $80,000 grant as part of this community partnership model. Irene Enriquez-Simpson was one of the people who led this protest because of the impact this program would have on the local Hispanic community.
“It was just astounding to find out that overnight all that went away, all that hard work disappeared,”said Enriquez-Simpson, President of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
School board members say they will continue to talk with these groups, but a final decision most likely won’t be made until a new superintendent is in place.