BRADENTON – One of the chief priorities the Manatee County School Board charged new superintendent Rick Mills with was to assess the district's administrative organization and propose any reorganization he felt would be necessary. Mills, who came on board March 20, proposed a significant restructuring of the district's top positions. The board approved it unanimously at Monday's meeting.
Mills' reorganization eliminates the current assistant superintendent positions for teaching and learning, CFO and support services, replacing them with two deputy superintendents; one for instructional services, the other for operations. The reorganization will also create three executive directors (one each for elementary, middle and high schools) who will report directly to the school district, whereas those supervisors had previously been under the teaching and learning umbrella, reporting to the assistant superintendent.
Mills said that current assistant superintendent Scott Martin would transition back into the role of staff attorney, which was left vacant when Martin was promoted. The fate of fellow assistant superintendent Bob Gagnon was not discussed.
The board also voted to put out a request for proposals for outsourced legal services to replace current in-house board attorney John Bowen, who is set to retire in June. The board had hired in-house counsel in 2005, in an effort to curb legal costs, which nonetheless skyrocketed after Bowen came on, mostly owed to a series of costly lawsuits he was later criticized for engaging in.
Bowen's close relationship with the administration and the absence of a staff attorney often blurred the lines between the relationships. Under the reorganization, the administration will have its own staff attorney, while separate and distinct outside counsel will be available to the board.
The superintendent said that in order to pay for the costs that would come with the reorganization project, there would be a cost adjustment to the budget of about $140,000. Mills said he intends to offset that cost through staff and program reductions, and that ultimately, he felt a 10 percent net reduction in costs could be achieved.
Mr. Mills said that he found the organizational problems in the district to be much worse than he initially thought when he arrived and felt that the reorganization would be a major step in changing the culture of the district. The proposed organizational chart is below. Click here to see the current organizational chart for the district.
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