School board plans town hall meeting

Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 02:35 PM.

Dottye Thornburg, who has been active as a volunteer coordinator with the school system, said she believes under the current system, it will be difficult to find someone with the knowledge and expertise to succeed Marks, who has indicated she does not plan to run for a third term.

“The process is intense. I’ve been beating the bushes trying to find a qualified person to step into her shoes,” said Thornburg. “We’re at a crossroads of our education program. We do not have a qualified person to step in and take her job.

“I have talked to other counties, and more often than not, they have liked their decision to go with an appointed superintendent,” she said.

In a later interview, Thornburg said she reached her conclusions after asking several people in Franklin County to consider the superintendent job. “I would not have asked them if I had thought they would not do a good job and were not qualified,” she said. “The people themselves were the ones saying they were not qualified. Some said they have been out of the education field for too long and some said they had not been in the education field for long enough.”

Earlier this month, the Walton County school board voted 4-1 to ask their county commission to place a measure on their Aug. 28 primary ballot to switch to an appointed superintendent. Presently, 26 of Florida ’s 67 counties – or about 40 percent – have hired superintendents, with the remaining 41 counties, mainly the small and mid-size ones, continuing to elect them.

According to a 2012 Tennessee study, only three states - Alabama , Florida , and Mississippi - allow for local districts to elect superintendents. Across those states, 147 of the 355 districts, or about 41 percent, elect superintendents - a total representing less than 1 percent of the more than 14,000 school districts nationwide.

The board also heard briefly from Margo Posten, who works at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, and who spoke in favor of having an appointed superintendent.

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