Should School Superintendents Be Appointed Or Elected?

The Hancock County School District will soon have another new school superintendent. Current superintendent Mike Ladner lost in Tuesday's runoff election.

Such turnover is nothing new. In fact, no one can recall when someone's held the post more than one term in a row. That's why some say it may be time to appoint a school superintendent.

Some people liken the continual turn over in the superintendent's office to a game of musical chairs.

"In this county, I find that superintendents don't get voted in superintendents are voted out and that's a shame. It's unfortunate because no one can do what needs to be done in just one term," School Board President Peggy Ladner said.

Ladner and others say politics are to blame.

"Maybe the child got suspended off the bus and the parents were upset with the superintendent because the superintendent could not, or would not, do anything about it. Or a child got expelled from school for fighting and the parents were upset because it didn't come out their way. All those situations add up," current school superintendent Mike Ladner said.

Mike says if residents voted on academics and not popularity, the outcome of the race may have been different.

"Never before has our district achieved such high academic ratings that we have this year. We've gone from a 3.8 school District to a 4. 3 level school district in just 3 years time."

And, Ladner says, it was done at a reduced cost to the taxpayers.

As long as this position is elected there will always be politics in Hancock County School District. Ladner and others would like to see the superintendents job appointed by school board members.

"Mississippi is the last state in the union that has a large number of elected superintendents. There are two or three in Alabama and Tennessee, and that's it," Peggy Ladner said.

Ladner says there is a state code that would allow superintendents to be appointed, but it has to get approval from the U.S. Justice Department. That's something she and at least two other board members plan to pursue.

If school board members are successful in their attempt to make the superintendents job an appointed position, it would not effect the outcome of the general election.

by Al Showers