Brevard School Board chooses Mark Mullins as next superintendent
Mullins to earn up to $225,000 salary
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The School Board on Tuesday chose Mark Mullins — "a clear standout" among applicants — to be the next superintendent of Brevard Public Schools, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
The School Board had intended to narrow down a list of finalists for the open superintendent job at Tuesday morning’s meeting, but instead voted to dispense with the interview process and hire Mullins, the district’s current chief operating officer.
"He is my one and only vote, who stands head and shoulders above the rest of our candidates," said School Board Vice Chair Tina Descovich.
Mullins, one of 12 candidates who applied for the job, will replace outgoing Superintendent Desmond Blackburn, who after three years in Brevard has resigned to become chief executive officer of the national education nonprofit New Teacher Center.
Mullins has worked for the Brevard school district since 1994. He started as a math teacher at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High and rose through the ranks as an assistant principal of Southwest Middle School and Palm Bay High School and then the principal of the now closed Clearlake Middle School. For six years, he oversaw the 29 schools and principals in the south part of the county as an area superintendent.
As chief operating officer, Mullins oversees staff and budgets for the district's transportation services, food and nutrition services, purchasing and warehouse services and school security. He was responsible for running all of the school hurricane shelters during Irma and Matthew, and has been the one behind the scenes negotiating security contracts with local police departments in wake of Parkland. He serves as the district's second-in-command, taking Blackburn's place at school functions if Blackburn is not able to attend.
"To say I'm excited is an understatement, but I'm also humbled at the board's direction to select me as a candidate for the opportunity to serve as Brevard's next superintendent," Mullins told FLORIDA TODAY after the board meeting. "It is truly a rare opportunity to continue your career where it really began. Brevard embraced me as teacher 24 years ago ... and to now have this opportunity to continue leading this school system is a great honor."
The School Board has said it is prepared to offer Mullins a three-year contract and a salary between $175,000 and $225,000. One of the top 10 highest-paid superintendents in the state, Blackburn currently makes $220,500. The board and Mullins will begin negotiating his salary in the coming weeks.
Dispensing with finalist interviews
Of the 12 candidates who applied for the superintendent job, Mullins was the only candidate all five board members agreed they'd like to select as a finalist and interview. During the nationwide search to replace former Superintendent Brian Binggeli and hire Blackburn, there were 106 applicants.
In addition to Mullins, school board members Misty Belford and Andy Ziegler tapped as potential finalists Frank Rodriguez, a regional superintendent of Palm Beach County Schools, and George Bohatch, director of student services for Lee County Schools.
Board Chair John Craig also chose Rodriguez. Board member Matt Susin chose Donna Hargens, chief executive officer and president of DMH Educational Services and former superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, and Gary Shiffrin, executive director of the Brevard Association of School Administrator and former principal of Merritt Island High and Jefferson Middle.
Descovich selected only Mullins and, along with Ziegler, strongly recommended the board skip interviewing finalists and select Mullins immediately.
Board members had originally planned to choose finalists at Tuesday's meeting, conduct interviews June 21 and June 22 and select a new superintendent June 28.
"I believe in process, but I also believe in not wasting time and money," Descovich said.
The board had contracted with the Florida School Boards Association for $14,000 to assist with the search to replace Blackburn — compared to the $34,000 it would have cost to conduct a nationwide search. FSBA only assisted with the clerical work behind the search and was not consulted to weigh in on who the board should choose.
Ziegler anticipates the district will not pay the full $14,000, given the board's decision Tuesday. There would have been additional costs to provide transportation and lodging to anyone the board brought in for interviews. That money comes out of the school board's discretionary budget for conference fees and other board-related expenses.
Belford and Susin insisted the district go through the process of selecting and interviewing finalists.
"I cringe at the idea of making decisions without all the information," Belford said. "We owe it to the community to make sure we are evaluating the options. And it very well may be that we wind up supporting Dr. Mullins, but I feel like we are actually doing Dr. Mullins a disservice by not ensuring that we have evaluated our options thoroughly and then giving him the opportunity to be the top choice."
Belford and Susin initially voted against hiring Mullins, saying their vote was only in favor of interviewing candidates before making a decision. The board later re-voted and unanimously decided to hire Mullins as superintendent.
"I think he has evolved into just an amazing leader in the district," said Craig.
Since Blackburn announced in mid-May he would be resigning to lead the California-based New Teacher Center, the Brevard School Board has moved quickly to find his replacement.
From the start, board members ruled out conducting a nationwide search as it has done in the past, out of concern that it would take too long and cost too much money, and said they would ideally like to hire an internal candidate who can continue Blackburn's vision for the district.
Blackburn has said the latest his last day can be is Aug. 10 when school starts, but has also previously recommended there be some overlap between him and his successor to help with the transition.
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