Bradenton Herald | by Ryan Callihan and Giuseppe Sabella | June 3, 2021
County Administrator Scott Hopes officially resigned from his seat as a member of the Manatee School Board on Wednesday night.
The resignation follows through on a requirement included in Hopes’ employment contract with Manatee County government. Last week, Hopes was hired as a permanent county administrator and required to resign from the school district.
In an email to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Hopes reflected on his four years on the board and some of the school district’s recent accomplishments.
This is not the same district that I became a part of when first appointed, chairing and then, reelected as a sitting board member,” Hopes wrote. “I am proud to have closely worked with our current superintendent and have personally witnessed the district achieve greatness prior to, and throughout, the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hopes’ resignation leaves four elected officials on the five-member board. DeSantis will appoint someone to serve out the 17 months remaining in Hopes’ 4-year term, though the timeline for that appointment was unclear on Thursday. As of Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson with the governor’s office had not responded to a request for comment.
After two months as acting county administrator, the Board of County Commissioners moved to put Hopes in a permanent role. However, the county has until Dec. 1 to decide whether they will keep Hopes or begin a search for a new administrator.
Hopes previously told commissioners he would prefer to remain on the school board until he had long-term assurance about his administrator job. The contract Hopes signed on May 25 provided that assurance and required him to resign by June 2.
During a May 28 school board meeting, many of Hopes’ colleagues wished him well in his new job. As county administrator, Hopes is responsible for enacting the board’s policy decisions and the day-to-day operations of the county government’s 1,900 employees.
“You being on the board has truly been an asset, for not only myself but the whole entire organization,” Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said as she presented Hopes with a service award for his time on the board. “I don’t have to worry about you going forward because we have a lot of collaboration with the county, so we will continue to be working hand-in-hand.”
As they bid farewell, school board members said Hopes was instrumental in resolving financial issues and leading the school district’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve certainly had our bumps along the way, but I’ve always respected your skillset, your intellect. You know, we’re both stubborn guys, so sometimes we just butted heads,” said school board chairman Charlie Kennedy, who tried to remove Hopes as chair in 2018. “It has been a very productive time on this board and I have enjoyed working with you and learning from you.”
Hopes was first appointed to the school board by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2017 in order to fill a vacancy left by former school board member Karen Carpenter. In 2018, Hopes won an election by a 3-percentage-point margin to keep his spot on the board.
After the county’s decision to part ways with former County Administrator Cheri Coryea, Hopes quickly became the top choice to become the next administrator. Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge pitched the healthcare executive as the perfect person to enact the new board’s conservative agenda.
In recent weeks, commissioners praised Hopes’ performance, including his navigation of the Piney Point crisis that required assistance from state and federal officials.
“It has been an honor to serve with my fellow board members and shape the leadership of the School District these past four years,” Hopes said in his resignation letter.
Featured image: As required in his employment contract with Manatee County Government, Scott Hopes resigned from his District 4 seat on the Manatee School Board. In this Bradenton Herald file photo, Hopes’ seat sat empty after he missed the final 40 minutes of the school district’s public meeting on April 27, 2021. Giuseppe Sabella/Bradenton Herald