Details aired on superintendent proposal

Dr. Wayne Blanton

Dr. Wayne Blanton

Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 11:15 AM.

The simmering debate over whether the county schools should end direct election of the superintendent, in favor of having the school board hire them, began to bubble last week, with the exploration of details of what such a change would entail.

The Town Hall meeting May 13 at Franklin County High School was attended by a cross-section of parents from around the county, concerned taxpayers, interested school district employees and all five school board members, who are expected to decide next month whether to place a binding referendum on the November ballot to switch over in 2016 to an appointed superintendent.

Dr. Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association for the past 29 years, offered a Power Point presentation on how such a change would affect the interplay between the school board, the superintendent and the school system.

“I’m not here to sell you on elected or appointed,” he said. “I have seen elected and I’ve seen appointed superintendents. I can tell you there are pros and cons on both sides.”

Blanton outlined the relative scarcity of school districts nationwide that elect superintendents, as they are confined to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, and are only in 142 school districts out of just over 13,500 districts in America, or about 1 percent.

In Florida, superintendents are elected in 41 out of 67 districts, mostly in the smaller and mid-sized districts. He said while large districts tend to have appointed superintendents, Lake, Polk, Okeechobee and Flagler counties are among the medium size districts to opt for an appointed school chief.

Blanton said Florida is also one of only six states where both school board members and superintendents have constitutional officer status. He outlined provisions of the Florida constitution, and within statute, that govern who oversees a school district, noting that whether hired or appointed, a superintendent manages and supervises district operations, while the school board sets policy and approves the budget.

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