Mannix About Manatee: New superintendent's style may be what's needed
Feb 24, 2013 (The Bradenton Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Some folks will be snapping to attention when Rick Mills takes over as the new superintendent for the Manatee County School District.
Twenty-four years in the military.
Lieutenant colonel and battalion commander.
West Point assistant professor.
Yes, that ought to get people's attention over in the Taj Mahal at 215 Manatee Ave. W.
Their jobs may depend on it.
Not to make the Minneapolis Public School District chief executive officer sound like the second coming of George Patton, but if the Manatee school board was intent on hiring someone with the mandate to change the culture within the district management, it appears they got their man.
That the final vote wasn't unanimous -- it was 4-1, Barbara Harvey voting no -- is irrelevant at this point. As the motto says, it's not where you start, but it's where you finish that counts.
One of Mills' objectives is to win the support of the entire school board. Let's see whether he can do so.
His job will depend on it.
There were also observations made, questions raised and reservations voiced by people who know Mills or took part in the interview process.
His military style rubs people the wrong way.
He isn't warm and fuzzy.
His predecessor, Tim McGonegal, is one of the most decent, down-to-earth, personable people you will ever meet, but look how that ended up.
This isn't a popularity contest.
This is about getting results, not just in the academic arena, either, although that is paramount.
This is about putting the district's financial house in order and keeping it that way.
This is about insuring effective communication and transparency.
This about rebuilding trust with teachers and the community.
This is about holding people accountable.
There was something too neat and tidy about the blame attached by the recent audit into the school district's $3.4 million budget shortfall.
Flawed methods. Failed systems. Calculation errors.
An assistant superintendent retired.
The superintendent resigned.
It's all better now.
What was troubling is how some school leaders -- i.e., Barbara Harvey -- were so eager to put the budget fiasco behind them once it was determined the cause was neither criminal nor corrupt in nature.
Nothing more to see here, let's move along.
Back to business as usual.
Nuts to that.
This costly mess was indicative of a larger problem that still exists within an environment that tolerates it.
I've got the feeling that's not going to fly under Rick Mills.
It will be fascinatingto see if this militaryman succeeds in whipping the school district into shape.
So much is riding on it.
Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.
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