A decisive, intelligent and trustworthy person – the qualities of a superintendent that Manatee Schools needs and the very qualities exhibited by Superintendent Cynthia Saunders who I had the opportunity to observe during a volatile time in her tenure as superintendent.
As we know, Manatee’s poor enterprise resource planning, or ERP, implementation was a major failure of district management and the implementation vendor. Upon taking the helm, Saunders quickly comprehended the magnitude of the problem and took decisive action. Saunders ushered out the project manager, CIO and Deputy Superintendent, ended the vendor contract and proceeded to stabilize payroll, purchasing and financial systems.
How many others would have taken such a bold and decisive step as interim superintendent? Not many, but Saunders did.
Previously an instructional leader, on July 1 st Saunders was cruelly initiated into the “Operations” aspects of the District. Computer software configurations, IT vendor contracts and monthly financials are each highly complex and especially problematic when all are failing simultaneously. Saunders studied the operations details and made the intelligent decisions that needed to be made.
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How many interims would have expended the effort to learn the operations issues? Saunders did.
Faced with a sometimes divisive board, Saunders kept the individual board members apprised of the ERP status and responded to their questions and suggestions. From my occasional participation in board members briefings, it is clear to me that she was successful in building trust with the board members. It’s rumored this was not always the case with prior superintendents.
Trust was built and Saunders did it.
As a former AT&T executive and deputy superintendent from Seminole County Public Schools, I was privileged to serve under the leadership of three outstanding superintendents. Aside from achieving top rated schools, these three superintendents enjoyed 11, 9 and 7 years respectively, at the helm. Although my involvement with Superintendent Saunders was a short five months, I rank her abilities comparable to those three very successful superintendents. She can lead Manatee Schools to become a top rated District. After a challenging six months, she has proven that she can do it.
George Kosmac, ERP consultant