Appointed Versus Elected Superintendents

updated 4/24/2012
 

·        There are 63 school districts in Mississippi in which superintendents are elected. Throughout the US, with over 14,500 school districts, only about 146 districts elect their superintendents (1%). Mississippi elects the most.

·        Election of superintendents narrows significantly the pool of candidates. Candidates for elected superintendent positions must live within the school district at the time of the election.

·        Many small rural districts have difficulty finding highly qualified candidates who are willing to run for the office of superintendent.

·         In the 2011 election, 13 school districts had uncontested races for superintendent – the community had no choice, it just got the one person who lived within the district & was willing to wage a campaign

o    Four of the 13 uncontested superintendent races in 2011 were in school districts that were rated below Successful that year according to Mississippi's Accountability Rating System

o    10 of the 13 uncontested superintendent races in 2011 were in districts with underperforming schools (below Successful), and three had at least one Failing school

·          In 2007, 20 school districts had uncontested races for superintendent

o    In 2007, one school district had NO ONE run for superintendent – the school board appointed the retiring superintendent until a special election could be held

o     Many of the districts with uncontested races in 2007 had low-performing schools, two with uncontested races in 2007 had Level 1 (failing) schools

·         One district with a Level 1 school had uncontested superintendent races in 2003 and 2007

·        When a superintendent is elected, he or she is not accountable to the school board because the board cannot fire him/her. Therefore, there is no direct accountability when schools fail. The school board blames the superintendent, the superintendent blames the school board and the citizens are confused – they don’t know who is at fault.

·        When an elected superintendent proves ineffective, students lose 4 years of quality education (until the next election). Children do not recover from 4 years of poor education. When an ineffective superintendent is appointed, the board can act much more quickly to replace him or her.

·        Elected superintendents often avoid advancing issues that would improve education in their districts out of fear that they will be defeated. 

·        In a 2007 superintendent’s race, the incumbent threatened the district employees – including teachers – that he would fire them if they didn’t support him.


 
 
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