Manatee school board to extend superintendent's contract by a year, not two

mdelaney@bradenton.comMay 28, 2014 

BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School Board rejected a proposed two-year extension to Superintendent Rick Mills' contract and a handful of other suggested contractual changes Tuesday night.

The board also approved a 5 cent increase to school lunches, raising prices for elementary students from $2 to $2.05 and middle and high school student lunches from $2.25 to $2.30. The proposal would not increase the price district employees pay for lunch nor increase breakfast prices.

Mills did get an extension. The superintendent's contract will be extended an additional year until 2017 since the board did not take action not to extend the contract for an additional year by June 1, which was included in Mills' original contract.

"I don't like the two years but I can live with one," said board member Barbara Harvey.

Harvey joined Dave "Watchdog" Miner and Robert Gause in rejecting the proposed changes.

"At the end of the day, I agreed to a three-year contract with the possibility of a one-year extension," Gause said.

Board members Julie Aranibar and Karen Carpenter voted for the changes.

The proposed changes to the contract include:

• Requiring a unanimous vote by school board members to terminate his contract without cause. The current contract does not include such a clause.

If the board, which voted 3-2 to hire Mills, wants to terminate the contract without cause, the board must give Mills 30 days notice in writing on or before June 30 of any year within the term of the contract.

• Requiring a majority vote by the school board members to terminate the superintendent's contract with cause. Cause includes immorality, misconduct in office, incompetence and willful neglect of duty.

• Updating the section on terminating the contract with cause was also proposed to narrow the definition of cause. The change would strike a portion defining cause as "the illegal use of controlled substances, commission of an act that brings public disgrace upon the Superintendent or District, or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude." The contract language would say "for use of illegal drugs or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude."

• An annual performance salary incentive up to $7,500 based on a "satisfactory evaluation." The current salary incentive is based on the successful completion of a superintendent's course. Mills already has a superintendents' license and said it would be better to evaluate him based on his performance.

• The proposed changes would have renewed the contract for two years until June 30, 2018. The school board still must vote on the annual contract. If the board fails to vote each year before June 30, the contract will automatically extend for an additional year as per terms of the original contract.

In other business:

• The school board approved a 5 cent increase to school lunches, raising prices for elementary students from $2 to $2.05 and middle and high school student lunches from $2.25 to $2.30. The proposal would not increase the price district employees pay for lunch nor increase breakfast prices.

• The board approved the transportation agreement reached between district officials and five charter schools. The district estimates it loses about $550,000 a year providing contracted bus services to Palmetto Charter, Just for Girls Academy, Manatee School for the Arts and State College of Florida Collegiate charter school. The District Transportation Plan for charter schools will increase the revenue to the district by $51,235, according to the proposal approved by the board.

These funds will be deposited into the transportation department's general operating fund.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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