I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Elected or Appointed Superintendent of Schools Part I

Inweekly has a piece in their current issue regarding the debate surrounding which model is better for a school district:  Elected Board/Elected Superintendent, or Elected Board/Appointed Superintendent.

I've been contacted by three separate individuals/entities over the last two weeks, all of whom wanted my opinion on the subject of what the best model is for our schools locally.

I'm of the firm belief that we desperately need an appointed superintendent, hired by an elected board, evaluated annually, and accountable to the board.  A system like this, which is utilized in more than 99% of school districts nationwide, eliminates the friction between a "strong" elected superintendent and an elected board.

It also makes an elected school board less of an after the fact, rubber-stamp board, left out of most of

the strategic planning, goal setting, and policy development.

It also spreads the power and adds an additional check to the very powerful position of superintendent of schools.

It gives employees greater autonomy, particularly administrative employees who under the current system work on one-year contracts,  directly for a popularly elected, strong superintendent.  Issues of friction between such employees and their boss leave the elected board powerless to intervene on behalf of such employees, forcing an almost artificially concentrated loyalty to be expected from such employees for the elected superintendent, while simultaneously providing no impetus for such employees to show any deference at all to the duly elected school board.  After all, we're not their boss, they don't work for us.  That becomes the mentality.

So the quote in today's story was partially right.  We do desperately need to have an appointed superintendent, because under the current system our school board, when it comes to strategic planning, policy formation, critical information dissemination---we're not even in the back of the bus, we're not even on the school bus.  Often, just by the nature of this throwback, retrograde construct under which we work--we're not even picked up at the bus stop!

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