Scott Hopes will remain on the Manatee County School Board until a replacement is found.
Manatee County Commissioners hired Manatee County School Board member Scott Hopes as interim administrator Thursday morning.
Commissioners voted 6-1 in favor of appointing Hopes. Commissioner Reggie Bellamy cast the lone dissenting vote.
The biggest point of contention was Hopes’ ability to juggle administrator duties with his position on the school board. Gov. Ron DeSantis will eventually name a replacement for Hopes, at which point he will resign within 30 days. Until then, Hopes will remain on the school board.
“The county administrator position is not a part-time job,” Commissioner Misty Servia said. “In fact, it’s a double-time job. I have a little bit of concern about him trying to do both roles and being effective at either.”
Hopes said county administration is his first priority and added he is happy to work with the governor’s office and community to find a suitable replacement for his school board seat. He said the school board is operating in a strong rhythm and only has two meetings over the next two months and one in July, by which point he thinks a replacement will be found.
Commissioner Carol Whitmore said she is confident in Hopes’ ability to handle both roles, adding he knows how to “walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Commissioner George Kruse agreed.
“He's going to diligently work as an administrator, first and foremost, and then hopefully do an equally diligent job on the school board, since I have two kids in the school system,” Kruse said. “And at any point in time, we can ask him to resign within 30 days notice.”
Commissioners voted 4-3 on March 23 not to appoint Hopes so they would have time to interview the only remaining candidate who had gained any traction, Joseph Napoli, the city manager of Cooper City, a Fort Lauderdale suburb with a population of about 29,000. Napoli, however, withdrew his name from consideration after that meeting.
A proposed contract for Hopes was brought before the Commission at the March 23 meeting, but Commissioners Carol Whitmore and Reggie Bellamy objected to the $210,000 salary, which Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge said he negotiated in a phone call with Hopes. Hopes’ new contract includes a clause for 30 days’ notice to fire him if the commissioners are unhappy with his performance.
Hopes agreed to decrease his salary to $187,000. Administrator Cheri Coryea’s salary was $192,000, and Deputy Administrator Karen Stewart had a $189,000 salary while serving in the acting administrator role.
After appointing Hopes, commissioners thanked Stewart for serving in the role for a month and a half when she didn’t necessarily want to do so.
“You've done a tremendous job,” Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said. “This county hasn't missed a beat. And Karen looked at me yesterday, and she said, ‘Commissioner, it's because of the great staff that we have. And everyone that works here is very dedicated to their jobs, to this county, to the citizens in this county.’”
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.