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East County Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 1 month ago

Manatee County School Board District 4: Scott Hopes

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After 2017 appointment, Hopes seeks full term.

Name: Scott L. Hopes

Age: 57

Occupation: Chairman and CEO of  CliniLinc

Family: Wife Ronda Hopes and three children: Aaron, Ariel and Zakary

Education: Associate of Arts degree from Gulf Coast State College, Panama City; Bachelor of Arts, Natural Sciences and Biology from University of South Florida, College of Natural Sciences; Master of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics University of South Florida, College of Public Health; and Doctor of Business Administration, University of South Florida, Muma College of Business 

Elected government experience: Appointed to school board in 2017; served on the University Of South Florida System Board of Trustees 

Why are you running for this position?

As a product of Florida’s public education system, high school diploma through doctorate degrees, I owe my success to Florida’s public education system. I want to ensure that every child in Manatee County is afforded the same opportunity that I had for an excellent education and success, regardless of their ZIP code, poverty status, ethnicity or gender. The district has many challenges, financial and operational, as a result of questionable past management and a rapidly growing county and economy. My experience in education, higher education, K-12 and success in business, government and finance make me the best candidate to continue to continue to lead this district to number one in the state in fiscal effectiveness and student success.

What uniquely qualifies you for this position? 

I am a former educator and school department chair, successful businessman, fiscal conservative and proven leader who knows how to lead  governing boards to achieve organizational success and excellence in education and business.

I have exceptional experience both in management and “governance” having served on numerous governing boards of large and small corporations, government entities, the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida System and the School Board of Manatee County. 

I have transformed the school board from an ineffective board that lacked fiscal oversight and transparency, followed no rules of order, had meetings that sometimes went on until 2:30 a.m, and lacked focus, to a board that on July 24, 2018, earned and was awarded the Master Board Certification from the Florida School Board Association following a yearlong training and education program with a school governance board consultant. 

I have a doctorate in business administration and I am a proven board member and leader. I am the only candidate that has served on boards and managed organizations with annual budgets ranging from $2.1 billion to over $15 billion. The district’s current budget is rapidly approaching $1 billion a year in tax payer money.

I am a product of Florida’s public education system and graduated from Bay County High School, Panama City, and received an associate of arts degree from Gulf Coast Community College; a bachelor of arts, in natural sciences and biology from USF College of Natural Sciences; a master of public health, epidemiology and biostatistics from USF College of Public Health; and I earned my doctorate in business administration from USF Muma College of Business.

What do you see as the three biggest challenge facing the district and how do you propose to address them?

Strategic plan and superintendent recruitment: the school district has not had nor followed a strategic plan nor a financial plan for the past three years. We need to engage the community and business leaders to participate in developing a strategic plan for the school district, including a financial plan and operating plan which is goal oriented to get the district to number one in the state in fiscal effectiveness and student success. 

The strategic plan will identify the characteristics and experience we need in a new superintendent.

Recruit an exceptional a proven successful superintendent — Aligning our superintendent search with the goals and objectives defined in our new “community-driven” strategic plan will help us ensure that we have the “right person” for the job of leading our district to excellence.

We need to dramatically raise academic performance in language arts in K-3. The district lags behind most counties in reading success and high school graduation rates. We can do better. Fifty-one percent of third-graders and 50% of ninth-graders are not reading at grade level. We can do better.

We need to expand by 300% the district's pre-K program to ensure our children are “kindergarten ready”

We need to open most if not all of our elementary schools in the summer to provide continuous education, nutrition and supervision for our struggling students.

Align technical programs with future and projected jobs: We must create and maintain connectivity with the job creators and employers in the region and be partners in planning for the economic growth and development of businesses, industries and services. 

We must strategically plan academic and technical programs to prepare students to meet occupational requirements and skills which are forecasted five to 10 years in the future as well as tomorrow.

To accomplish a structure of continuous collaboration between the school board and school district and the regions job creators and employers, we need to expand and enhance our public private partnerships:

We should create a division of partnerships focused on internships and a dual enrollment opportunities and expand our on campus high school technical and job training programs, like my successful efforts to put a new construction occupations program a Bayshore High School which will open this August 2018. We also should create create employer-specific curriculum and engage employers in the schools.

What ideas do you have for improving the district's operations?

We currently have a number of operations departments that are failing in their areas of support for our education mission.

In August, the superintendent and I have arranged for the Florida Association of District School Superintendents Association to come into the district and update its 2013 study of the district’s operations, finances and academics and make recommendations for dramatic improvement.

We expect those recommendations to be present by the end of December 2018 and we will be prepared to implement immediately.

In February, the State Auditor General was brought in to do an operations audit of the district. We had the exit interview on July 26, 2018, and we expect their recommendations for improvement and correction within the next few months.

Our information technology department was understaffed and lacked sufficient personnel with adequate experience. I requested the administration to perform an assessment and bring to the board their needs to build an effective IT department.

The board then approved new job descriptions and allocated new full-time positions to enable the administration to hire the personnel needed.

Transportation has been a consistent problem for years. I insisted that the district implement and use the school bus routing system and GPS tracking which was acquired in June 2016 but never used. Effective July 1, 2018, the transportation department started using the system to create more efficient bus routes and enable parents to track online their child’s school bus.

We need to redistrict our schools’ attendance zones so student attend the closest school to build stronger communities and reduce busing.

How and when do you feel the board should move forward with the superintendent search?

We need to first develop a strategic plan and finance plan for the district that will enable us to identify the skills, experience and style of superintendent the district needs to move our school district to excellence. In early May, I began working with the Florida School Board Association on a transition plan and program for recruiting the best superintendent for our challenges and needs.

Once the Florida Association of District School Superintendents has completed its study of the district, and we receive the State Auditor General’s report of our operations, we will be in a position to finalize the strategic plan and recruit a stellar rock-star quality superintendent using a high quality and successful recruiting firm. The Duval County School District took a little over a year to recruit its new superintendent.

Do you think the school board should consider in-house candidates for the superintendent post. Why/not? 

We should follow the process I have described to recruit an experienced and successful superintendent that has proven success in managing a district of our size and scope and a rapidly growing district, economy and population, regardless of where they currently work. With that said, I do not believe we currently have an employee that has that level of experience and success. 

What is your opinion of the school district’s plan to ultimately set up an in-house police force, both short and long term?

I have consistently maintained that we need experience armed law enforcement officers from our city police departments and Sheriff’s Office to protect our students and staff. I have developed an operational and finance plan with the county and Sheriff (Rick) Wells that can replace any guardians with armed law enforcement in all of our schools by fall 2019.

What other issues do you see as important for the district to address over the next three years, and what ideas do you have about them?

I want to implement an outcomes-based budgeting process and a collaborative governance model with classroom educators that will ensure that we have the highest quality and motivated instructional staff in all of our classrooms, empower classroom educators to perform at their highest level and ensure that our classroom educators have the support, supplies and material they believe they need to perform at the highest level of effectiveness.     

I want to expand our pre-K program by 300% to ensure more students are ready for kindergarten and their school years to come.

I want to open our elementary schools in the summer to accommodate all of our students in need of continuous summer education as recommended by their teacher, who knows their needs best!

I want to reduce our more than $325 million of debt by 30% in five years.

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