Senate OKs appointed superintendents

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – All Mississippi superintendents would be appointed by January 2016 under legislation the Senate approved Tuesday.
The bill, which passed 44-6, requires people in school districts who currently elect their superintendent and want to keep it that way to gather signatures to hold a referendum.
Unless 1,500 registered voters or 20 percent of the registered voters, whichever is less, petition for a referendum on the issue, the elected superintendent will be replaced by an appointed one.
Senate Education Chair Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, said elected superintendents must live within the district, which limits the number of qualified applicants.
Plus, “If you have a bad (elected) superintendent, you can’t get rid of him for four years,” Tollison said.
Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, quipped, “Can you get rid of bad legislators?”
Sen. Kelvin Butler, D-McComb, said a district also could have a bad appointed superintendent.
Another bill pending before the Senate would require the election of all school board members, who would hire the superintendent. Currently, some school districts – primarily municipal districts – have appointed superintendents and school boards while most county districts have elected school boards and superintendents.
Legislation dealing with the issue also is pending in the House. In past years, legislation to make superintendents appointed has died in the House.
Some believe leaving the locals the opportunity to petition for an election might make it easier to pass that chamber.
Also in the Senate Tuesday, a portion of Gov. Phil Bryant’s Education Works agenda passed. That portion deals with efforts to attract the top students to the teaching profession and a pilot merit teacher pay plan.
Other parts of his agenda, such as efforts to improve reading by ending “social promotion,” also are alive in the both chambers
But the governor’s proposal to provide scholarships for students to attend private schools could die if not taken up by a key Thursday deadline.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com