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Former assistant school superintendent running for School Board

STORY BY RAY MCNULTY (Week of November 11, 2021)

Bruce Green, a former assistant school superintendent here, has decided to return to his education roots and run for the District 1 School Board seat currently occupied by Mara Schiff.

Green, who worked for the School District of Indian River County for 21 years before resigning in June 2018 to spend more time with his father, filed the necessary paperwork with Supervisor of Elections Leslie Swan’s office last week.

“Indian River County is my hometown, public education has been my passion, and I have the experience and relationships in the community needed to do the job,” Green said during a phone interview.

“I know this district, I’ve kept up with the issues – at least to some degree – and I want to make sure this county remains a nice place to live and a good place to send your kids to school,” he added. “There’s no reason I should say: ‘Let somebody else do it.’

“I’ll be 51 in January, and I’m not ready to ride off into the sunset.”

The 2022 School Board elections are scheduled for next Aug. 23. If there are multiple candidates vying for a district seat and none receives more than 50 percent of the votes cast, the election will go to a Nov. 8 runoff between the top two vote getters.

Green, who has earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from the University of Central Florida and master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University, began his career in education as a teacher at Fellsmere Elementary School.

After seven years in the classroom, Green moved to district headquarters, where he served as a school improvement liaison, educational accountability and instructional data analyst, and executive director of instructional and information technology.

He was promoted to assistant superintendent of technology and assessment in 2013. Four years later, he was also assigned to oversee the district’s human resources department.

During his final two years as an assistant superintendent, Green was the district’s chief negotiator with the teachers’ and support staff unions, charter school liaison and school principal supervisor.

“I moved through the district in a unique way, and I filled a lot of roles,” Green said. “No matter what job I had, though, my role has always been to find ways to improve the classroom.”

Green worked for five different superintendents – Harry La Cava, Tom Maher, Pat Pritchett, Fran Adams and Mark Rendell – and said he “always strived to support, as much as I could, anyone I worked for,” including School Board members.

He was a finalist for the superintendent’s job in 2015, when the board hired Rendell, who resigned after four troubled and tumultuous years to become a principal at Cocoa Beach Senior-Junior High School in Brevard County.

“I was one vote away,” he said, “but I believe everything happens for a reason.”

Green first left the district in 2010, when he entered the private sector and took a job as a customer advocate for a software design and development company. But he didn’t enjoy the traveling that accompanied the position, and he returned after only a year away.

Three-and-a-half years ago, Green resigned again, this time to become the general manager of Premier Landscape Solutions, a Vero Beach company owned by a friend who agreed to give him the scheduling flexibility he wanted to spend time with his aging and ailing father.

“My mom had passed 2 ½ years earlier, and my dad was in his late 70s and wasn’t doing well,” Green explained. “One morning, I woke up and realized I hadn’t gone fishing with my dad in two years.

“As fate would have it, I had a good friend who owned a well-established local business and he wanted me to help grow it,” he added. “He said he could give me the flexibility I needed, so I took the job and was able to spend more time with my dad during his final two years.

“Before my dad’s condition deteriorated and he passed last summer, my brother and I were able to spend time with him and take care of him.”

Green said he doesn’t regret his decision, but with his dad gone and his two sons having graduated from college, he’s ready to jump back into education – as a School Board member.

“I’m not quitting my job at Premier,” he said.

He is eager, however, to put his years of experience and district expertise to use again in a community he said he loves.

“You know how some people feel a calling? I have to do this,” said Green, whose mother was a teacher for 32 years and wife still works as a teacher. “It’s not only the right time, but it feels right.

“I’ve already talked to my two bosses – at Premier and at home – and everyone’s on board,” he added. “My wife asked me three times: ‘Are you sure?’ I told her this is something I’ve got to do.”

Schiff said last weekend she hadn’t yet decided whether to seek re-election and that she wasn’t sure when she would. But she welcomed Green’s interest in running for the board.

“I think he’s a good candidate,” she said. “He brings a wealth of experience in education and knowledge of the district.”

For his part, Green, whose family has lived in Fellsmere since 1917, pledged that he would not run a negative campaign against any candidate who enters the race.

“I’m running for something,” he said, “not against someone.”

In fact, Green said he’s troubled by the heated – and sometimes combative – tone that has defined too many School Board meetings in recent months.

“Education is not easy, especially lately, but it doesn’t need to be so contentious,” he said. “I’m open to listening to every side of an issue, hearing the community’s voices and engaging them in solving problems.

“I understand the current environment and the divisiveness that’s out there,” he added, “but I’m not political and I have no agenda, other than to help make our public schools the best they can be.”