Barbour gets superintendent bill

BY BOBBY HARRISON
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – The state could remove school superintendents in low-performing districts under legislation that passed the House and Senate Tuesday and is heading to Gov. Haley Barbour.

The legislation has strong backing from the state Board of Education and the Mississippi Economic Council as possibly part of the puzzle to improving perennially low-performing districts.

“We're trying to do what is best for our kids,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian.

The bill was designed to be a compromise. Various groups, including the state Board of Education, have advocated replacing all elected superintendents with appointed superintendents and making all school boards elected.

About half of Mississippi's 151 superintendents are elected, by far the most in the nation.

That legislation faced opposition, particularly in the House.

Under the legislation that passed Tuesday, the superintendent would be replaced in a school district that is low performing for two consecutive years. If the superintendent is elected, another election would be scheduled and the replaced superintendent could not run.

If the superintendent is appointed, the school board would name a replacement.

The bill, a compromise between what passed the House and Senate earlier in the session, cleared the Senate 38-14 Tuesday. A few minutes later, it passed the House 100-18.

Many complained that the legislation put no accountability on the school board in the low-performing districts. House Education Committee Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, promised a study would be done and additional changes would be pursued during the 2009 session on how school districts are governed.