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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

IMS won't appeal school board decision, hires shutdown coordinator

The Island Middle School Board of Directors agreed that it may not be wise to appeal the Manatee County School Board's decision to end its charter.

The IMS board has the option to appeal the school board's decision at the state level, but believes the time and effort to do so would further detract from the needs of the students for the rest of the school year.

"We only have 14 days to appeal the decision," said Kimberly Holmstrom, a board member and acting IMS director. "It would be better to put our energy and effort in making this a secure school for the remainder of the year. We don't have enough resources to fight an appeal and it would draw away from what we can give our children."

The board agreed it would be in its best interest to dissolve the current IMS corporation at the end of the school year and work towards forming a new corporation and applying for a new charter school for the 2005-06 school year.

Prior to the end of the current school year, the school board will require several actions of the IMS board to ensure the integrity of its educational program.

First, all board members must participate in training provided by the Charter School Resource Center at the University of South Florida or Florida State University, specifically to clarify the roles and responsibilities of a charter school board and the school's director. The board members must also agree to refrain from getting involved with day-to-day operations of the school.

An interim director with an education background must be hired to run the daily operations of the school. The IMS board met Sunday, March 21, to hire Larry Fowler as its "shutdown coordinator" to handle the daily operation of the school and prepare it for closing in May.

Fowler is a member of the Anna Maria Island Kiwanis and is a retired principal. Fowler has more than 30 years experience in the education field as a teacher, counselor, director of guidance, director of truancy, athletic director, principal and director of alternative programs at schools in Colorado, Illinois and Michigan.

The board's decision to hire Fowler is still pending the approval of the district.

Weekly update meetings between the district and IMS staff will take place until the school closes.

All IMS staff must be retrained in project-based learning strategies and how to incorporate Sunshine State Standards and grade-level expectations into planning and instruction. Holmstrom said this training has already been scheduled for teachers.

IMS staff must develop a physical property inventory in coordination with the school district's internal audit department. All property of IMS will revert to the school district once the school closes.

IMS staff must develop a process to work with parents to place their students in appropriate schools for the 2004-05 school year.

The board must forward all meeting notices to the school district at least 24 hours prior to the meeting date and all meeting minutes must be submitted within 72 hours.

Finally, the board must review the recommended guidance from the district finance department to determine the capacity of the school to meet financial obligations for the remainder of the year.

According to IMS bookkeeper Julie Krokroskia, the school's budget is back on track, although the efforts to raise funds through the annual walk-a-thon, scheduled for April 3, and candy sales are still needed.

In other board matters, member Jim Ferguson resigned from the board to focus his efforts on his campaign against Frank Brunner for a seat on the Manatee County School Board in November.

The board officially voted on the expert-in-field status of music teacher Jimi Gee and life-skills teacher Lori Guerin, passing unanimously a motion to accept their professional credentials.

Finally, the board announced that art teacher Micheline Grenier-Jones has resigned from her position at the school.