New chiefs guiding 60 Miss. school districts

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The state Department of Education is requesting $2.5 million to start a superintendent’s academy.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that state Superintendent Tom Burnham told House Education Committee members this past week that the academy is “desperately needed” for new administrators to receive training.

Sixty of Mississippi’s 152 school districts have new superintendents. The number doesn’t include the seven districts with state-appointed conservators.

Burnham said some of the superintendents have “been asked to do things they don’t know how to do.”

Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Superintendents, said with the pressure for greater accountability and improved student performance, experienced leadership may be a key.

Domenech said research has shown it takes at least three years for superintendents to establish themselves in a community.

Broad reforms are happening in education, including the adoption of stronger academic standards and a ratcheting up of accountability.

“I hope and pray that we all take our time and not make any hasty decisions on laws that are far-reaching and impactful,” Sam Bounds, executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, said of educators and lawmakers.

“We need to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is education of our students,” he said. “And leadership matters.”

With almost 40 elected superintendents, about half did not seek re-election. The other half were defeated in elections, Bounds said.

Of 20 appointed positions, 12 superintendents retired, Bounds said.