Mills calls for elimination of assistant superintendents, creates new positions

Mills calls for elimination of assistant superintendents, and other changes

eearl@bradenton.comApril 4, 2013 


Rick Mills is a candidate for Manatee County Schools Superintendent. GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald


MANATEE -- At least two assistant superintendents in the school district are likely to lose their jobs in a reorganization proposed by Manatee County's new superintendent of schools.

Rick Mills has proposed eliminating the assistant superintendent for teaching and curriculum and the assistant superintendent for support services held by Robert Gagnon and Scott Martin, respectively.

Under Mills' reorganization, part of his overall 100-day plan, he is creating two new deputy superintendent positions over instructional services and operations. He will submit his reorganization plan to the school board during Monday night's regular meeting.

"I want to enhance operations, especially in the IT area," Mills said.

Mills' plan also includes eliminating the positions for director of elementary education and secondary education in favor of three new positions: an executive director of elementary schools, an executive director of middle schools and executive director of high schools. The executive directors will supervise principals and their schools.

Those two positions proposed for elimination currently report to Gagnon, but the new positions will report to Mills, with input from the new deputy superintendent of instructional services.

All together, Mills expects the new positions to cost the district an additional $140,000 a year in salary increases.

As assistant superintendent for district support services, Martin is currently responsible for databases, word processing and maintaining records. His respon

sibilities include conducting research relating to contract proposals, interpreting programs and policies to district staff, helping with decisions about the budget and preparing reports.

Martin, who served in this role under then-superintendent Tim McGonegal, was responsible for these areas when the district discovered a $3.5 million deficit because it had failed to account for teachers' salaries, textbooks and additional programs and because the budgeting software they were using was outdated and failed to perform basic tasks such as addition and subtraction.

Gagnon served for about two weeks as interim superintendent after McGonegal suddenly left office after reporting the deficit. Gagnon agreed to serve as the interim until a new superintendent was hired, but wanted to be able to apply for the permanent position and also wanted a clause in his contract protecting his assistant superintendent position for at least a year if he was not chosen.

He had only been serving as an assistant superintendent for six months when McGonegal left.

The school board instead hired David Gayler, a former Charlotte County school superintendent, as the interim until they found a permanent superintendent. The board did not give Gagnon any promise of job security when it decided to go outside of the district for an interim superintendent.

Neither Gagnon nor Martin returned calls and requests for comment. Mills said he plans to consider both internal and external candidates for the new positions.

As part of his reorganization plan, Mills has drafted job descriptions for the two proposed deputy superintendent positions.

"Enhancing the position to a deputy superintendent position opens the door for greater candidates with a higher skill set and competencies," Mills said. "We will attract people at a more competitive level that a district this size needs to have."

The new deputy superintendent of operations will be expected to research and use data and maintain accurate records concerning planning and spending evaluation.

The deputy superintendent of instructional services will be responsible for improving student performance, overseeing and starting academic programs, investigating complaints and providing assistance on data analysis. Those are most of the duties that currently fall under Gagnon's purview.

Mills said he is aware of the financial challenges the district faces, and after these positions are filled, he can continue to repurpose, merge and eliminate other positions.

Mills said that his transition team, which includes Bill Vogel, a former superintendent of Seminole County and citizens advisory group member, will do a review to assist in the reorganization plan.

"When we eventually get the right people in place with the right skills, we will have leadership that will produce greater outcomes at a lower cost," Mills said.

Mills is recommending the approval of his new organization plan at the school board meeting Monday, April 8.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @ericabearl.

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