It seems clarification on the benefits of appointing school superintendents versus electing is needed. Across our country, 99 percent of school superintendents are appointed by the school board. This has not led to “privatized public education” or “charter districts” that Mr. Norton would like the public to believe. Florida and Alabama are the only two states still electing superintendents. This is not a South Florida vs. North Florida issue. Nor is it a “greedy-money grab of the education system” by South Florida. Instead, it is pure fear mongering from a man worried about his job. Changing these amendments is about searching out only the best for our children and teachers.
Hiring a superintendent gives the school board the ability to choose from a wide pool of experienced applicants. This is important in smaller districts. Growth requires a willingness to explore qualified applicants, both local and non-local. Appointing a superintendent creates an environment of accountability. Superintendents are hired and can be fired just like teachers and administrators in the district. Appointed superintendents must work with board members which creates a much-needed check and balance system.
School boards will continue to be elected. Voters put their trust in a five-member board to hire a superintendent. New faces bring new ideas, which is why term limits for board members are a common practice across the United States. A board can get plenty accomplished in eight years. As far as board members’ salaries are concerned, only 22 percent of school board members across the country get paid. In small school districts, 75 percent of school boards are not paid. Again, a common practice in 48 other states.
These amendments are not “dangerous” as Mr. Norton would like to have us all believe. These amendments are bringing Florida into the year 2018 and in line with the rest of our country. Giving school boards power to hire and fire, putting the salaries of board members back into the education system, and ensuring innovation and creativity are top priorities benefits the community as a whole. The only danger I see comes from an unwillingness to embrace practices that are happening in the rest of the country.
Mexico Beach Resident
Parent of three children assigned to Gulf County School District