Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Schools Might Hire Consultant

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Schools Might Hire Consultant

Article excerpt


As the district looks to rebound from several high-profile financial and personnel issues this year, the Manatee School Board is considering hiring a consulting firm to help revamp the district's policies and procedures.

Bringing in outside help to develop a new policy manual would be the third major school function outsourced in recent months as the board continues to examine how other Florida school districts operate. Already, legal and internal audit services have been contracted with outside agencies.

On Monday, the board discussed firms that would work with school staff and the board to redefine rules for a district that has experienced a major budget deficit and compliance issues found in state audits this year. Board members and school administrators have publicly attributed those problems partly to weak or non-existent school policies, and a failure to follow current rules.

Educational Management Consultant Services Inc. would charge $46,000 for their services, outside of traveling and printing. NEOLA is asking for $55,000, excluding travel.

A policy review, which could take anywhere from eight months to two years to conduct, has been deemed necessary by board members who say a new manual will allow the district to keep up with mandated changes from the Florida Legislature, to update outdated policies and to combat litigation.

"One of the places this is most helpful is (human resources)," said Tom Young, a NEOLA representative who has worked with Pasco and Pinellas counties. "What we provide to districts are policies and procedures that if implemented and followed diminish the likelihood of disparate treatment."

On Monday, some board members said they felt that working with outside professionals would result in an efficient process.

"My recommendation would be to outsource this as soon as possible," said board member Julie Aranibar. …

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