Manatee County Schools select new superintendent

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BRADENTON – School board members in Manatee County had their choice of six finalists, but in the end, an outsider to the state of Florida got their vote.

It’s been months since superintendent Tim McGonegal left his position unexpectedly. But Wednesday night, school board members finally voted on a permanent replacement, and that replacement is Rick Mills, the current CEO of Minneapolis Public Schools.

School board members expect him to change the culture of the district. “It's not just turning the page, we're going to start a whole new book for Manatee County,” says board chairman Karen Carpenter.

Board members voted 3-2 Wednesday night in favor of Mills as the district's next superintendent. “He's got serious management experience that will help us organize the district to the benefit of students, with all the high schools and schools on the same page,” says Carpenter.

Prior to his current position in Minneapolis, Mills served as superintendent to more than 20 schools in the City of Chicago. He now replaces Tim McGonegal, who resigned last September after revealing a $3.4 million deficit in the district's general fund.

Pat Barber, the president of the Manatee Education Association, says Mills better be ready to get his hands dirty. “We've been in limbo for a while. Things have been kind of marching in place. A lot of decisions haven't been made. We haven't been able to move forward.”

Mills is expected to start work next month.

The other two school board votes went to candidate Diana Greene, a former deputy superintendent in Marion County.