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New Superintendent Sets Bold Agenda for First 100 Days


BRADENTON – Newly sworn-in Manatee School District Superintendent Rick Mills has hit the ground running, launching an intensely-detailed 100-day entry plan, describing how he intends to quickly identify and implement needed changes within the district. Mills, who was sworn in at 8 a.m. this morning, says his work is guided by the belief that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision, a tenet from Dr. John Maxwell 's The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

The new superintendent says that both he and the school board share a sense of urgency in putting together a system capable of providing all students with the best quality education. As such, Mills wrote that he will “make decisions quickly where appropriate.” He identified a district disconnect with stakeholders who feel undervalued and ignored, and he pledged to actively seek out such input, while listening closely to concerns.

Rick Mills Manatee Superintendent

The new superintendent indicated he would utilize a transition team led by retired Seminole County Superintendent William Vogel (who co-chaired the board's Citizen Advisory Group) to review the district's strategic plan, its organizational structure and culture, as well as district communications, engagement and fiances. Mills says the team will produce detailed reports and recommendations for operational and financial areas, including input for an economic recovery plan.

Mills noted that he saw tremendous potential within Manatee Schools and said that in addition to public engagement, the district's success will require “employees who are energized, engaged and feel valued.” He recognized the toll that the budget and other factors had taken on employee disposition and said that he would work with the school board and staff to meet those challenges and boost morale.

In the plan, Mr. Mills more than once refers to the need to create a shared vision, while implementing systems and processes conducive to success, especially in the beleaguered area of finance. “The district must become fiscally sound both for 2013-2014 and outlying years,” Mills notes, adding that they will not only need a highly-trained finance team in place, but “the implementation of fiscal systems, practices and dashboard metrics to establish and sustain fiscal responsibility.”

Rather than ease into his new role, Mills is clearly ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work – a welcome approach for a district that has been lodged in a sort of administrative limbo since former superintendent Tim McGonegal resigned last September and was followed by three interim-superintendents who served in his wake. The quick start and detailed approach is consistent with the former Lieutenant Colonel's reputation as being a mission-oriented leader, focused on achieving ambitious results.

Teachers, students, parents, taxpayers and district employees will all be hoping that Mr. Mills' strategy turns out to be a good dose of the right medicine. As he notes in his plan, potential requires leadership and strong support structures to flourish – and most Manatee residents know that both have for too long been in short supply within the district. The new boss has set a bold agenda for the first 100 days and if he can deliver, our schools will have a first foot set on the right path.

Click Here to View Superintendent Mills' 100-Day Entry Plan Presentation


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