Should superintendent be hired?

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 09:41 AM.

Shiver noted that any registered voter at least 18 years old is entitled to run for the superintendent post, which this fiscal year pays $94,071, as per state statute. “There are no qualifications to run for the position,” she said.

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 their superintendents. 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 districts nationwide.

Last week, the Walton County school board voted 4-1 to draw up a resolution to switch to a hired superintendent, which that board plans to vote on at an upcoming meeting.

Shiver said her research of the issue on the internet brought forth both supporting and opposing arguments for a hired superintendent, which she outlined for the board.

In her summary of the supporting arguments, she wrote that a hired superintendent would be accountable to the school board and could be removed at any time for failure to meet established goals and performance standards.

“Some may argue that the elected superintendent is more accessible and accountable to the public. However once the superintendent is elected, only ethical violations or the end of term may remove the individual from seat,” Shiver cited. “The superintendent is accountable to the school board to achieve common goals.”

She noted in the supporting arguments that a hired superintendent would be less affected by politics, or driven by a personal agenda. “Some districts that have hired superintendents claim that the system is more balanced since the board and the superintendent are not both elected positions,” wrote Shiver. “The hired superintendent would not be concerned about pleasing a constituent base and not beholden to political supporters.”

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