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East County Wednesday, May 30, 2018 2 years ago

Search for next Manatee superintendent could have local focus

School board members will covet candidates who appear to be long-term leaders.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

Administrators at the School District of Manatee County might have an enhanced shot of becoming the next superintendent.

School board members Dave “Watchdog” Miner and Charlie Kennedy both said they would be interested in finding someone with strong ties to the area as they search for a long-term leader.

Superintendent Diana Greene resigned after serving half of her four-year contract and takes over July 1 as the Duval County Schools superintendent. The previous superintendent, Rick Mills, served half of his four-year contract, going into retirement in 2015.

Besides finding someone who is willing to make a long-term commitment, Miner also said it would protect county taxpayers if penalties are built into the contract for leaving early and if those penalties are upheld.

Miner noted in a school board workshop May 22 that Greene’s contract included a clause saying she couldn’t accept other employment without approval from the board, which she didn’t do. At the school board meeting that same day, members voted to allow Greene to accept her new job, except Miner.

“I think we definitely should make sure (the next) contract provides penalties for breaking it in the future,” Miner said.

“We need security and continuity right now,” Kennedy said.

School board member Scott Hopes said the next superintendent’s contract should include a provision that the superintendent must give the board at least 90 days notice before leaving.

“We need to make sure that this transition gives us as little setback as possible,” Hopes said. “This district has its goal to get that ‘A’ grade, and we need to look for superintendents that can follow through on that.”

If the board members find a replacement with local ties, those penalty clauses and provisions could be moot.

Deputy superintendents Ron Ciranna, Cynthia Saunders and retired Sarasota County superintendent Lori White were among names mentioned by board members as possible replacements.

In terms of qualities, Kennedy said he, like Hopes, wants to see a candidate with expertise in all aspects concerning the operation. With the district experiencing financial difficulties when the previous two superintendents were hired, emphasis was placed on the ability to oversee the budget. That might not be quite as important after Greene has been credited for righting the financial ship. The district has a $25.5 million surplus.

Besides the ability to oversee a $692 million budget, school board member John Colon said he wants a superintendent who thinks outside of the box to help the school district.

“We need someone who can come up with those ideas that can save money in a nontraditional way,” Colon said.

Greene’s salary is $189,955.

As far as a timetable, the school board is hoping to name an interim superintendent by July 1. It isn’t likely a superintendent will be selected before the November elections when three board members, Hopes, Kennedy and Colon, are up for re-election. Hopes said he expects the search for a new superintendent to last a year.

While school board members concentrate on the search, district teachers and principals will be watching.

“To me, when we’re looking to hire, it doesn’t matter where they come from as long as they’re right for the job and the best one for the job,” Braden River High Principal Sharon Scarbrough said.


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