Manatee County School Board chooses new superintendent Wednesday

eearl@bradenton.comFebruary 19, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Manatee County School Board will choose the new superintendent at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.

The five board members will vote on which of the six finalists they see as the best fit for the position.

The Citizens Advisory Group met Friday to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and identified Constance Jones, Kathryn LeRoy, Rick Mills, and Diana Greene as the strongest of the six finalists, stating that John Carvelli and Pam Stewart may lack the experience needed to lead the district.

The Citizens Advisory Group will have the opportunity to present their opinions to the school board members before they publicly cast their votes.

The advisory group called Jones a great communicator and listener. "She was the only one that truly knew the difference between an internal and external auditor and how to use each appropriately," CPA Byron Shinn said. However, the group has its doubts about her explanation of the financial process as whole.

The group described LeRoy as intense and driven and one that would not shy away from tough decisions. While they thought she demonstrated strong management skills, they also felt that she could be potentially polarizing.

LeRoy is one of three finalists for superintendent in Beaufort, S.C., whose

school board members will meet to vote tonight. LeRoy said that she will ask for a 24-hour delay if chosen.

A strong statement from the group about Rick Mills was that he demonstrated the ability to bring positive change, close the achievement gap, reinstitute fiscal responsibility and elicit performance. "Of all six candidates, he is a game changer," said group member Richard Greene.

While he had positive momentum in Minneapolis, some group members are concerned about bringing in a superintendent from out-of-state because of his lack of local connections and limited knowledge of the culture of Manatee County.

However, others saw this as a plus because he could bring in new processes and practices.Both the advisory group and Susie Copeland, president of the Manatee County NAACP, said that Diana Greene is a strong candidate.

Marion County, where Greene serves as deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction, strongly mirrors Manatee County, yet has fared better, they said.

The advisory group thought that Greene demonstrated an ability to make tough decisions, but they were not completely satisfied with her financial experience.

Her system was self-described as "archaic," which Shinn found to be disturbing. They also thought she was light on details when it came to budgeting.The group thought that candidate John Carvelli from Port St. Lucie was engaging and congenial.

However, they saw a lack of readiness in him to serve a district of this size.The group spent the least amount of time discussing Pam Stewart. They asserted that she was too concerned about being politically correct and also questioned the amount of time she would be able to serve as superintendent.

While the school board values the opinion of the Citizens Advisory Group, only the board members will vote Wednesday.

The vote will take place at the school board office on Manatee Avenue West and is open to the public.

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