Education

Gov. Rick Scott appoints Scott Hopes to fill vacant school board seat

Gov. Rick Scott appointed health care technology executive Scott Hopes to fill the vacant seat on the School Board of Manatee County.
Gov. Rick Scott appointed health care technology executive Scott Hopes to fill the vacant seat on the School Board of Manatee County. Aimee Blodgett/USF

Gov. Rick Scott appointed health-care technology CEO Scott Hopes to fill a vacant seat Friday on the School Board of Manatee County.

Hopes takes over the seat that was vacated by former board member Karen Carpenter, who resigned in May to move to Boston and be with her family.

And, like Carpenter, Hopes is not afraid to speak his mind. He said he has bold goals for his time on the board.

“My goal is for Manatee County to be the No. 1 school district in the state,” Hopes said.

He said he is dismayed that 50 percent of third-grade students in the district did not pass the state reading test, according to test scores released in May, and he said the board needs to hold administrators more accountable.

I think (Superintendent Diana Greene) remarked that we went from 48 (percent) to 50, and that’s an improvement. Is that a statistically significant improvement, or did that happen by chance? That’s not much of an improvement.

New School Board of Manatee County member Scott Hopes

“I think (Superintendent Diana Greene) remarked that we went from 48 (percent) to 50, and that’s an improvement,” Hopes said. “Is that a statistically significant improvement, or did that happen by chance? That’s not much of an improvement.”

Hopes’ addition to the board means Vice Chairman John Colon, a former Scott appointee himself, has an ally in the debate over tax increases. The board has discussed raising the tax rate on property owners to generate more revenue for the district, and Colon has been the lone opponent thus far. Hopes said raising the millage to increase teacher salaries was a “nice soundbite.”

“I have not yet seen data which indicates that the root cause of Manatee County’s performance when compared to other counties is due to teacher pay,” Hopes said. “I suspect, because I’ve been involved in enough organizations, that we will find we can achieve cost savings in other areas and redirect them to teachers in the classroom.”

He said he hoped to streamline some of the district’s costs, including cutting back on administrative pay and getting a better deal on health insurance. Hopes has worked in the health-care industry since his early 20s as an executive and lobbyist. For most of the 2016-17 school year, the teachers’ union and the district were at a contract impasse, partially over the increased cost of health insurance premiums.

I have not yet seen data which indicates that the root cause of Manatee County’s performance when compared to other counties is due to teacher pay.

New School Board of Manatee County member Scott Hopes

“That is an area where you can achieve significant savings by helping to inform and encourage appropriate use of health-care services, and those are dollars you can redirect toward increase in pay,” Hopes said. “I suspect that when I look into how we are purchasing administrative services for a self-insured program, and the way in which employees and dependents are utilizing services, that we can probably find a way to improve the insurance benefits in such a way that can also manage some of the costs.”

Hopes recently moved to the county from Homestead, although he said he had been spending about a third of the year here since he and his wife purchased a home in Manatee three years ago.

Since June 2010, Hopes has been the chairman and CEO of CliniLinc Inc., a Miami-based company that specializes in converging clinical and patient information as well as improving the flow of communications between physicians, clinicians and patients, according to its website.

He ran for the Florida Senate in 2012 to represent Hendry, Collier, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, but he lost in the general election. He led a task force in Gov. Jeb Bush’s administration, analyzing Florida’s certificate of need for health-care centers.

He is also a previous Scott appointee. In 2013, Scott appointed Hopes to the University of South Florida’s Board of Trustees. Hopes is also a governor’s appointee to the State Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Florida and chairman of the Appointee’s Caucus of the Republican Party of Florida.

Campaign finance records show Hopes donated $5,000 to “Let’s Get to Work,” a political group supporting Scott’s 2014 campaign, and Hopes gave $1,000 to Scott’s 2010 campaign.

Hopes has three children in their 20s. His youngest son is a student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He said he plans to run for the District 4 seat once Carpenter’s term expires in 2018.

“I will start running as soon as I can file paperwork,” Hopes said.

Ryan McKinnon: 941-745-7027, @JRMcKinnon

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