BRADENTON -- Diana Greene will serve as interim superintendent for the Manatee County School District beginning Wednesday as negotiations begin to give her a one-year contract as full-time superintendent starting June 1.
"I was not expecting this," Greene said. "I'm feeling every positive emotion possible."
The motion Tuesday night was made by Manatee County School Board member Charlie Kennedy after a display of community support for Greene. All five board members voted in favor of the motion.
Greene will be sworn in as the interim superintendent at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The district will start negotiations for the one-year contract, which will either be in place by Tuesday or retroactive to then if not completed.
Greene, deputy superintendent of instruction, has been the community favorite for the permanent superintendent job since Mills announced in late April he was going to retire two years early from his district contract.
The one-year contract satisfies a lot of community member concerns, Kennedy said.
"I think to say, given her experience with us, all the good things about her, I don't think it's unreasonable to say, we at least owe her a year to see what she can do," Kennedy said. "By giving her a one-year contract, we let her establish herself as a superintendent."
It gives the district time to survey community stakeholders and allow Greene to emerge from former Superintendent Rick Mills' shadow, Kennedy said. Kennedy stipulated the survey on how stakeholders in the community feel on district issues should be completed with
in three months.
The motion was seconded by Karen Carpenter.
"She's got my vote, and I will tell you if she gets to be superintendent, or whoever is superintendent, I will support them. I will not put my foot out to trip them," Carpenter said.
Greene said the district needs to heal from past wounds and move forward.
"I'm going to spend a lot of time ensuring our community, our schools know that we're here to start the healing process and in doing that, start to move forward," she said.
The schools have done a good job moving forward during the last two years and keeping the focus on children, she said.
"They are not allowing the outsides noise to impact what they do each and every day," she said.
Citing academic successes and her personality, community members voiced strong support for Greene during public comments at the meeting.
"I'm asking you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let's move this district for the sake of students," said Corie Holmes, who is running for the Manatee County Commission District 1 seat. Holmes, now a Republican, is a former Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputy and a former Democrat.
Edward Viltz, the only declared candidate in the 2016 school board race, also supported appointing Greene. Viltz has filed to run for the Manatee County School District 1 seat held by Bob Gause, which covers northeast Manatee, including Parrish, Palmetto and East Manatee. Viltz's address on file is on State Route 64 East. Viltz is a teacher at Team Success, the only Title 1 charter school in Manatee County.
"I would suggest the board reconsider the upside gains of finding a more qualified candidate for the downside risk of losing Dr. Greene," Viltz said. "My only objective is what's in the best interest of the children of Manatee County."
A few community members recommended the district do a candidate search or some other option.
Parent Lela Hartsaw recommended the board do a survey to make sure the community is on board with the district's direction and with Greene as the next superintendent.
"And if it matches, there you go," Hartsaw said.
Don Hall, named interim superintendent after Mills retired, will return to his post as deputy superintendent of operations.
The board agreed Tuesday night to increase Hall's pay and benefits after he served as interim superintendent the last two weeks. The board approved an hourly rate equivalent to $98 per hour and also approved an additional $400 per month in supplemental salary retroactive to the short period Hall served as interim superintendent.
"I am willing to serve in this role. I enjoy serving the district in whatever role," Hall said.
Hall, who repeatedly expressed support for Greene, said he was happy to be headed back to his position.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.