All-elected school board bill ditched for study

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – It appears the Mississippi Legislature will not require school board members to be elected, but will study the issue.
In a surprise move Thursday, the Senate amended legislation that would have required all local school board members to be elected to instead establish a study task force.
Senate Education Chair Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, said he supported the amendment creating the task force offered by Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian.
“There were a lot of different issues – different types of selection and different terms for school boards,” Tollison said. “Plus we have so many other education issues we are dealing with this year.”
Tollison said he wants to instead focus this session on the passage of legislation making all superintendents appointed.
Mississippi has a hodgepodge of governance of local school districts.
Generally speaking, municipal school districts have school board members appointed by the mayor and governing board and superintendents selected by that appointed school board.
Some districts have a combination of appointed and elected school board members – especially when the municipal district has territory outside of the town’s boundaries. In a few cases, there are areas in school districts outside of the municipal boundaries that do not have any representation on the board.
Of the 146 elected superintendents nationwide, 62 are in Mississippi – primarily in county districts that also have elected school board members.
The bill establishing a task force on whether all school boards should be elected now goes to the House where Education Chair John Moore, R-Brandon, said he thinks it is a good idea to study the issue.
Moore said he also hopes to pass legislation this year making all superintendents appointed.

Click video to hear audio