Saying a change to elected school superintendents would set back education in Tennessee by a century, the Warren County Board of Education has drafted a resolution requesting the state leave the process the way it is with appointed school directors.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, was brought up given the annual push in the General Assembly to return to electing school superintendents in Tennessee.
“The General Assembly will undoubtedly continue to face pressure to revert to elected superintendents, particularly from some local funding bodies reluctant to increase education funding and improve school system budgets,” the resolution reads.
Warren County Director of Schools Dr. Jerry Hale is appointed by the local School Board, while the School Board is in turn elected by the voters of Warren County to serve four-year terms within their districts. Prior to a change in law the last decade, the process was the opposite. The school superintendent was elected and the board was appointed by the superintendent.
In its resolution, the Board of Education maintains it can better select a director of schools and can also go outside the county to find an appropriate superintendent if needed.
“The appointment of superintendents provides a broader pool of qualified candidates and removes residency limitations, allowing the selection to be based solely on professional qualifications and leadership skills rather than political savvy,” the resolution reads.
The resolution maintains the director of schools is more accountable by being appointed.
“The appointed superintendent is accountable to the Board of Education and may be replaced for failure to achieve the standards and goals established by the local board,” the resolution reads.
The resolution also points out most former school superintendents had trouble getting re-elected thereby having the office reset every four years.
“History in Tennessee has shown that most elected superintendents are voted out of office after one term – just around the time school systems, students and the community begin to benefit from their increased knowledge and experience,” the resolution reads, noting only Alabama, Florida and Mississippi continue using elected school superintendents.