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Meet School Board Chairwoman Bridget Ziegler

Bridget files for re-election to the Sarasota County School Board alongside her husband Christian and daughters Reagan (4) & Sloane (2)

Bridget Ziegler is the current Chairman of the Sarasota County School Board, and seeking re-election to continue serving the best interest of all stakeholders, including students, families, teachers, and taxpayers.

Bridget Ziegler was first elected to the Sarasota County School Board in 2014, after being appointed by Governor Rick Scott to fill a vacancy.  During her four years on the board, she has been a champion for fiscal accountability, transparency, and Student First policies.

Passion For Serving:

As with any parent, once you have a child, your priorities and reason for living changes dramatically.  While Bridget was always active in her community, her work was predominantly focused through volunteering with local nonprofits. However, once her daughter Reagan arrived, a newfound sense of meaning came to ensuring all families had access to high-quality education options at an early age.

The combination of her passion for children and her business acumen is what has allowed her to be an effective public servant for her community, with a focus on what matters – the STUDENTS.

Throughout the four years of her service, she has been a voice for parents on the School Board, and has assisted countless families navigating the various roadblocks and bureaucracy to ensure their problems are addressed promptly and in the best interest of the students.

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Bridget’s Priorities

✔️ Keeping Our Children Safe
Like me, parents across Sarasota County drop their children off at school each morning and entrust in our schools to watch over them throughout the day. And while we work and go about our daily lives, we expect our children to be safe until the moment we pick them up.

As a parent, there is NOTHING more important or valuable to me than my children and that is why my top priority has and will continue to be school safety.

✔️ #StudentsFirst
Every decision I make starts with one question – What is in the best interest of the over 43,000 students in Sarasota County?

The focus of education shouldn’t be on the “system”, but instead solely focused on every single individual child and what we can do to help teach, shape, and guide them towards a successful future.

I have and I will always put the needs of our #StudentsFirst!

✔️ Empowering Parents & Families
No one will ever know what’s in the best interest of each and every individual student greater than the parents and families watching over them.

That is why I believe that we must incourage, engage and empower parents to be as involved as possible in the education of their greatest treasurer – their children – both at school and at home!

✔️ Supporting Teachers & Staff
Outside of parents & families, the greatest influence on the success of our students (the next generation) in Sarasota County are the over 5,000 teachers, staff and coaches instructing and supporting them each day.

Teaching is a true calling based on a deep-rooted passion to help not just educate, but mentor and shape our students. The last thing a teacher should have to worry about is if they have enough supplies or other resources to carry out their passion for the benefit of our children.

As a member of the Sarasota County School Board, I will continue my efforts to ensure that our teachers & staff have the resources necessary to achieve their mission.

✔️ Fiscal Responsibility & Stewardship
I will never forget that every dollar spent by the Sarasota County School District is a dollar given to us by the hardworking and generous taxpayers of Sarasota County.

That is why i’m so passionate about ensure that the Sarasota County School District serves as a good stewards of these tax dollars by securing the greatest return on investment (ROI) from every expenditure.

✔️ Champion for Transparency
You elect the School Board and you pay for the School District. The School District is YOUR government and I believe that you have a right to view & provide feedback on every decision, expenditure and action taken on your behalf. Meetings cannot happen in obscure rooms away from cameras, policy cannot be proposed without you reviewing, and your money cannot be spent without you knowing exactly how it’s spent.

I have been a champion for transparency and while my efforts have upset some along the way, I will never apologize or stop advocating for whom I work for & represent – The People

✔️ Taxpayer & Parent Advocate
With an annual budget of over $800,000,000 (yes, $800 million), 53 schools, over 43,000 students and 5,000 teachers & staff, the bureaucracy of the Sarasota County School District is massive and can be intimidating/difficult to navigate.

To help address this challenge, I have always made myself available to every taxpayer, parent, staff member and student who has questions, needs additional information, provides feedback or needs help navigating THEIR school district.

Bridget’s Wins On The School Board

School Safety

  • 2015 – Championed school safety & security enhancements to become part of the 5 year Capital Improvement Plan’s priorities – including single point entry.
  • Appointed to serve on Governor Rick Scott’s School Safety Workshop, which resulted in my recommendation of the state having a baseline standard of security guidelines, an update of OPPAGA, and audit’s to ensure compliance.
  • Pushed for streamlined Risk Management Procedures to be adopted at every school site.
  • Championed the extended closure of School Ave at Sarasota High School (and currently pushing for permanent closure)

Fiscal Accountability & Stewardship

  • Instituted an Independent Negotiator for Teachers Union Bargaining Contract Negotiations.
  • Secured an annual savings of $200,000 by updated the School Insurance Brokerage Procurement Policy and requiring an RFP at a minimum of every 5 years.
  • Provided increased financial review and oversight by requiring that any improvement over $150,000 on a non-instructional structure be brought before the board for approval.
  • Implemented financial safeguards such as ensuring that any expenditure that exceeds the prior approved bid contract’s “not to exceed threshold” now requires the board approval (Prior to this requirmeent being in place, the process was to simply notify board members by email and no approval was necessary).

Transparency

  • Increased transparency and public access by moving School Board Workshop Meetings from an obscure conference room away without cameras to the School Board Chambers with cameras.
  • Allowing “The People” to have direct access to the discussions, proposals and decisions of their School Board by requiring that all School Board meetings and workshop meetings be televised, live streamed & online archived
  • Increased public access and awareness of upcoming proposals, discussions and votes by requiring the attachment of supporting documents to the online agenda.
  • Blocked placement of any item, without supporting documents, to the Consent Agenda without supporting documents for increased review by and transparency to the public.
  • Increased transparency by requiring that all construction projects/capital improvement plans be identified by name.

Academics & Parental Involvement

  • Championed fairness by grandfathering students when amending class weighting and student progression plans.
  • Championed transparency and equity for students by promoting school choice options (Charter School Information, School Choice Open Enrollment, Dual Enrollment).
  • Founding Member and President of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members (FCSBM), an organization dedicated to focusing on the needs of each individual student and empowering parents.

Teacher & Staff Support

  • Streamlined the administrative process for student referrals to ensure fairness and transparency.
  • Instituted an audit and review of hiring process.
  • Streamlined the online system for volunteer sign up, thus increasing volunteer engagement.

Policy

  • Embarked on a full scale School Board policy review for regulatory compliance & procedural accuracy/
  • Instituted financial safeguards such as ensuring that any expenditure that exceeds the prior approved bid contract’s “not to exceed threshold” now requires the board approval (Prior to this being in place, the process was to simply notify board members by email and no approval was necessary)
  • Review & Restructure the School District’s Equity & Harassment Policy, which increased the integrity of the process.
  • Restructure of the District’s 7.71 Construction Procurement Process
  • Restructure of the District’s Captial Improvement Plan, which requires any improvement over $150K on a non-instructional structure must be brought before the board for approval
  • Updated Texting Policy to align to Public Records Law’s and reduce District Liability
  • Updated Insurance Brokerage Procurement Policy, requiring an RFP at a minimum of every 5 years. This process resulted in an annual savings of $200K.
  • Updated text Book Adoption Process to ensure public review, input and transparency at the local level and worked with the State Legislature to adopt similar policies statewide.

Governance & Misc.

  • Championed the removal of the Teachers Union’s use of the official School District email server. The Teachers Union now operates on their own server.
  • Strategic Goals & Superintendent Evaluation Tool aligned to Measurable Metrics