The Manatee County School Board chose Rick Mills, a former military man and chief executive officer of Minneapolis Public Schools, as its superintendent Wednesday night.
At a special meeting, board members voted 3-2 in favor of Mills, with Julie Aranibar, Karen Carpenter and Bob Gause in support.
Dave Miner and Barbara Harvey voted for former deputy superintendent of Marion County Schools Diana Greene, who earned heavy support from members of the public at the meeting.
After Mills accepted the position via telephone, the board took a final vote with only Harvey dissenting.
Groups who helped interview the candidates, including representatives from the Manatee Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the school board’s Citizens Advisory Group and district staff, spoke favorably of Mills before the vote.
The Citizens Advisory Group chair, Richard Conrad, called him the only candidate who is a “game changer.”
As the only candidate from outside Florida, Mills was considered an “outside” candidate from the start.
He didn't start his education career until 1991.
Formerly of Chicago Public Schools, Mills also holds 30 years of military administration experience.
When Mills left Chicago as area superintendent of 26 high schools for Minnesota, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried to persuade him otherwise.
In letters of recommendation, former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, credited Mills with developing six military academy schools and 35 high school JROTC programs.
The board will negotiate Mills’ contract immediately and finalize it Monday.
Mills said he will start sometime in March and is working on a exit plan from Minneapolis Public Schools.
Mills takes over a district in turmoil.
He will replace Tim McGonegal, who resigned Sept. 10, after he revealed a $3.4 million budget deficit. David Gayler has been acting as the interim superintendent since Oct. 15.