By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Residents in county school districts that elect their superintendent of education will have to vote on whether they want to switch to an appointed superintendent under legislation that passed the House on Wednesday.
The legislation, voted down Monday, was revived by the Republican leadership by a slim 58-57 margin and then passed 62-55. It now goes back to the Senate.
Of the 146 elected superintendents nationwide, 64 are in Mississippi – primarily in county districts. Superintendents in the other 87 Mississippi districts are appointed.
For years, various groups have advocated all-appointed superintendents, and while the legislative leadership supports the concept this year, changing the law is proving difficult.
Rep. Joe Warren, D-Mount Olive, authored the amendment, which passed on a voice vote, giving residents in the districts that have an elected superintendent a vote on whether to change to an appointed school head. The election would be in conjunction with federal elections in November 2014.
“Everybody will be assured a vote, and it will not cost the counties a dime extra because they will be holding elections already,” Warren said.
The Senate can now accept the House legislation or invite negotiations. The bill passed by the Senate earlier in the session would require all superintendents to be appointed unless 1,500 registered voters, or 20 percent of the registered voters, whichever is less, petition for a referendum.
The Legislature allowed residents of school districts with elected superintendents to vote for a change in 1988, and in every case voters opted to stay with an elected superintendent.
Most of the Republican majority voted for the legislation Wednesday, though the vote was bipartisan with many members who represent districts with elected superintendents voting against the proposal.
Vote of Northeast Mississippi House members on legislation that would require residents in districts with elected school superintendents to vote on whether to make the post appointed:
FOR — Brian Aldridge, R-Tupelo; William Tracy Arnold, R-Booneville; Jim Beckett, R-Bruce; Randy Boyd, R-Mantachie; Chris Brown, R-Aberdeen; Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs; Lester “Bubba” Carpenter, R-Burnsville; Gary Chism, R-Columbus; Joey Hood, R-Ackerman; Mac Huddleston, R-Pontotoc; Brad Mayo, R-Oxford; Nolan Mettetal, R-Sardis; Jody Steverson, D-Ripley; Preston Sullivan, D-Okolona; Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn.
AGAINST — Nick Bain, D-Corinth; Donnie Bell, R-Fulton; Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville; Steve Holland, D-Plantersville; Bill Kindade, R-Byhalia; Steve Massengill, R-Hickory Flat; Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston; Margaret Ellis Rogers, R-New Albany.