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Should Florida school superintendents be elected or appointed?



6a00d83451b05569e2010535d18669970b-800wi Florida's largest school districts, which serve the most students, have long allowed their school boards to select the district's superintendent, who oversees budgets that can run into the billions and staffs of thousands. Many have doctorates in education leadership, and most have worked in schools for years.

Still, the majority of districts are run by an elected CEO who needs no more qualification than a voter registration card in the county of the district. The superintendent might be an educator, but could be a community activist, former lawmaker or just a well-known person.

If the district performs well, the notion of taking away the voters' right to select their schools leader seems almost alien. That's been the case in Pasco County, where the public routinely has rebuffed proposals to have the superintendent be appointed. Pasco is the largest school district in the country to have an elected superintendent.

But where there's scandal, the question takes on new meaning.

Lake County residents were perfectly pleased to have an elected leader, for instance, until former state senator Anna Cowin took over and ran the district in such a manner that even the School Board tried to have her removed early. Now Lake has an appointed superintendent.

The latest case comes in Monroe County, where former superintendent Randy Acevedo has become a convicted felon over his actions in office, and his wife faces several charges relating to personal use of school district money. Monroe voters have rejected the idea of an appointed superintendent five times since 1976, the Keynoter reports. But the issue is back again, and seems more likely to gain support now.

Martin County voters might get to consider the same notion, too. Residents there have grown weary of clashes between the elected superintendent and the School Board, the Stuart News reports.

It seems a logical thought that change could improve things. But then, think about the monumental disputes in Miami-Dade that led appointed superintendent Rudy Crew, considered in some circles an education icon, to an early exit from his post last year.

What do you think? Would switching from an elected to an appointed superintendent help districts like Monroe and Martin?

(Times file photo)

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:54am]


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