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East County Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2018 5 days ago

Manatee County School Board appoints interim leader

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Deputy Superintendent Cynthia Saunders will become interim superintendent July 1.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

The School District of Manatee County board on Tuesday night voted to make Deputy Superintendent Cynthia Saunders the district's interim superintendent, pending negotiations.

Her term is anticipated to begin July 1, when current Superintendent Diana Greene leaves to become the superintendent in Duval County.

Saunders, who followed Greene from Marion County, worked as the executive director of secondary schools from 2013 to 2015. Saunders was appointed deputy superintendent of instructional services in July 2015.

Board member Charlie Kennedy said he believed the district needed a "strong female leader" to take over for Greene as superintendent and keep the district on the right track. 

Following the appointment, Saunders and the district will negotiate her contract, which should be ready by the June 26 school board meeting. Board Chairman Scott Hopes said Saunders likely will be sworn in at that meeting. 

The vote on Saunders' appointment was 4-1, with member Dave Miner dissenting. 

Also at the meeting, the Guardian program was officially approved and adopted.

The board approved the job descriptions for those to be hired into the program.

The Guardian program, according to Ron Ciranna, the deputy superintendent of business and operations, has already received 253 guardian applications, 66 lead guardian applications and six directors of safety and security applications.

It also was announced June 12 that S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term rating of the school district from BBB+ to A. 

The report states: “The upgrade reflects the board's recent trend of stable operating performance and improved reserves, supported by the formalization of financial management policies and practices that we consider 'good.' The district reported operating surpluses in three of the last four audited fiscal years. In that time, the district's available fund balance increased by $26.7 million. The board's available fund balance at fiscal year-end 2017 was $18.1 million, or 4.9% of expenditures, which we consider good.”

School board chair Scott Hopes said he hopes this opens up more opportunities for the district in the future.

“Our board and administration view the financial health of the School District of Manatee County as a strategic priority,” Hopes said in a release. “This upgrade positions us to make longer-term decisions with confidence around our capital structure and other financing needs that should yield positive results to our balance sheet and our reputation as a well-run school district and the confidence the community holds in the continued stewardship of the district and its assets.”

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