Mills makes recommendations for two deputy superintendents

twhitt@bradenton.comApril 20, 2013 

MANATEE -- Rick Mills, superintendent of the Manatee County school district, will recommend a former competitor and a former co-worker for his two deputy superintendent positions.

At a school board meeting Monday, Mills will recommend Marion County's former deputy superintendent of curriculum Diana Greene, to be the district's deputy superintendent of instructional services, responsible for improving student performance, overseeing and starting academic programs, investigating complaints and providing assistance on data analysis.

His recommendation for deputy superintendent of operations is Don Hall, the chief information officer for Minneapolis Public Schools, where he is responsible for managing payroll, finance, human resources, student information transportation, food services and library management.

The deputy superintendent of operations is assigned to direct the district's business services, support services and information services divisions.

Both deputy superintendents will be paid $132,503 annually.

Greene, who received two of the five board votes for the superintendent position, will take over the responsibilities that had been assigned to Bob Gagnon in his assistant superintendent role. Mills said he will announce Gagnon's new role during Monday night's school board meeting.

Both of the deputy candidates have earned high praise.

Greene garnered two votes for the superintendent's position based on her background in curriculum and school development, as well as leadership. According to her resume, she developed a process for schools to predict their grades from the state with a 97 percent accuracy rate.

"She is a great fit for the team in terms of leadership and academics," Mills said.

Hall is considered to be one of the top 10 chief information officers in school districts around the country, Mills said. In 2006, the journal Technology and Learning, gave him its Educational Technology Leader of the Year award. He has also been a national runner-up for the Public School CIO of the Year award.

"In terms of technology and interface, finance and operations, this is a huge addition to the team," Mills said. "We think alike in those structures and in good organization and discipline."

Both Hall and Greene will complement his leadership style, Mills said.

He said he is sure his former school district is feeling "bittersweet" about Hall's potential move to Manatee County.

"I'm sure they're happy for his promotion, but they are losing a great CIO," he said.

Mills moved quickly in selecting his two deputy superintendents. The position closed out at midnight Monday and Tuesday Mills sent school board members the names of the candidates he planned to interview.

He completed those interviews this week and emailed his recommendations to the school board members Friday.

Mills has been moving quickly to address the district's weaknesses, including problems with the budget and its academic position in the state.

"Pursuing those deputy-level positions opened our opportunity to recruit the best qualified candidates for those positions," Mills said.

"Obviously we were able to attract very talented people to compete in those positions."

Mills said his reorganization will also allow him to take the "great people in our district and repurpose them where I think they will have the greatest strengths."

Mills has already announced that he is moving Scott Martin back into the district's legal department.

Martin, who served as an assistant superintendent under Tim McGonegal, was responsible for school support, including information technology, when the district discovered a $3.5 million deficit in part because the budgeting software the district was using was outdated.

Toni Whitt, education and business editor, can be reached at 941-745-7087. Follow her on Twitter @toniTwhitt.

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