Local government schools will have a new superintendent. After mixed results in the past, parents and taxpayers will have to hope this one proves worthy.
The first job for Diana Greene will be to get the fiscal house in order.
It will be a bigger job than she has now.
She heads Manatee County schools, which have about 48,000 students and 62 schools.
Duval County’s school system is more than twice that size.
Greene has been superintendent in Manatee County for three years, but cites success in reducing the number of failing schools to zero. The district’s grade, which had been “C” for three years before Greene’s arrival, was raised to “B” while she was there.
The Manatee school system promoted a 1 mill tax increase that was approved by voters in March. It will bring in $33 million and most of that will go to teacher pay. School officials claimed they were having difficulty hiring and retaining teachers.
Spending is up nearly 7 percent this year over the previous year.
Manatee County voters apparently dig taxation. They had approved an extension of the half-penny sales tax in 2016 to be used for new buildings, renovations and technology. Impact fees are now collected at 100 percent of the allowable rate and go toward buildings required by new growth.
According to the Manatee district’s web site, teachers with bachelor’s degrees can earn up to $62,000 in salary alone this year.
I hope Greene has more in her bag than raising taxes and spending. The local district appears to have no problem recruiting teachers — although the drumbeat for more money for government schools continues, no matter how much is spent on them.
Local School Board Member Cheryl Grymes reportedly said Greene is “the perfect fit for where we are and what we need.” Whatever that might be.
One edge Greene had was her long experience in Florida schools. The Bradenton Herald said Greene was a former superintendent in Marion County, and finished second for the Manatee County superintendent job in 2013. Two years later, she again fell short for superintendent jobs in St. Lucie County and Columbia, S.C., the Herald said.
Last year, an email phishing scheme resulted in the names, addresses, wages and Social Security numbers of more than 7,700 school employees being handed over to hackers. Greene was not blamed for that problem.
Welcome to the new superintendent. I hope she can continue the improvements made possible here and throughout Florida by increased standards, accountability and school choice – not increased taxes.