BRADENTON – New Manatee County School District Superintendent Rick W. Mills was sworn in during a special ceremony at 8 a.m. on Wednesday in the school board chambers. Mr. Mills, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army was sworn in by Judge Thomas Gallen, Senior Judge with the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, himself a former Army Green Beret and decorated veteran.
The ceremony was broadcast live on EDVTV, on both BrightHouse and Verizon cable television. Mr. Mills begins what is hoped to be a turnaround period for the district, which has been plagued by years of financial mismanagement that resulted in a multi-million dollar budget shortfall, followed by the resignation of former superintendent Tim McGonegal, who'd previously served as the district's finance director.
Mills was most recently the CEO of Minneapolis Public Schools, after serving for a decade in the Chicago Public School System, where he began overseeing military schools within the district before moving to an area superintendent. At both posts, he was credited with making tough decisions, which led to considerable improvements in nearly every measurable performance metric.
In taking over Manatee, the West Point grad and Western Pennsylvania native faces the challenge of a district that is ranked 47 of 67 in the state, despite per-student funding that is greater than many of the more highly-ranked districts.
Manatee Schools also faces an ongoing, high-profile investigation at Manatee High School, where a former student alleges that one of the coaches from the school's nationally-renowned football program had an inappropriate relationship with her. Both the Bradenton Police Department and State Attorney's office are investigating the allegations, as well as why no one in the district administration reported them to the state hotline, as required by law.
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