Election of Madison County School Superintendent is Uncommon Across Nation

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Madison County Schools superintendent hasn’t always been an elected position.  In 1991, a voter referendum changed it from being an appointed position to being an elected office.

At Tuesday night’s public forum, candidates were to be asked if they would support changing the position back to an appointed position.

Ron Klein, the chairman of the Committee of 100, wants the position to be appointed once again.

He argues that by keeping it as an elected office, the county cannot do a nationwide search for the best person for the job.

The Committee of 100 was one of three groups that organized the public forum for the superintendent candidates.

Incumbent David Copeland is running against Buckhorn High school teacher Matt Massey and Sparkman Middle School Principal Ron Blair.

Only about 120 school districts out of 15,000 districts nationwide in the country still elect the superintendent.  They are all in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Rep. Wayne Johnson of Huntsville wants the process for Madison County Schools superintendent to stay as it is.  He said his constituents told him they don’t want to lose their right to vote.

But other state lawmakers are open to the idea of changing it back to an appointed position.

Klein said proponents of changing it to an appointed position plan to approach lawmakers about a voter referendum in the next legislative session in 2015.

The Madison County School district has an elected superintendent and County School Board.

In Huntsville, school board members are elected.  They hire the superintendent.

In Madison, the City Council appoints school board members who then appoint the superintendent.

6 comments

  • Jon Calhoun

    Wouldn’t it be great if the forum was created to give voters a chance to compare the candidates, instead of used as a platform to push an agenda?

    Don’t hold an event and call it a forum/debate and then try to push your agenda. Be honest with the constituents who plan on watching tonight.

  • Bob White

    What does the average Madison County constituent know about the day-to-day operations of a large School System? Very little.

    Leave this to professionals. Allow them to conduct a nationwide search! Get the best candidates, not someone who is the first cousin of a county commissioner.

  • Art Moore

    Bob, I couldn’t have said it any better. Bring it the best candidate, even if he/she is from California or Maine. Spend the bucks. You get what you pay for, or you pay for what you get.

  • Jim M

    You cant get the best candidate with an election. This should be something the school board does a national search for the best candidate not a popularity contest which elections tend to be. I wouldnt want my superintendant to be a policitican but a manager who knows how to run a school system effectively. As you can see there are only 120 of 15000 superintendent positions in the US that are elected and they all happen to be in MS, AL and FL which coincidentally dont have great records when it comes to education anyway much less mixing it with elected office…

  • John W

    I must agree with everyone’s comments. It is humorous and at the same time very scary that anyone can run for the superintendents office with complete disregard to experience or qualifications. Everyone seems to think that an election protects against the school board or other various groups pushing their agenda. This thought is completely wrong and backwards. Think about it people, if anyone can run for office, do you not realize those running have ties to the board and other groups agendas. Do you not realize groups fund candidates because they are wanting to push their own agendas once that candidate is in office? The worst possible idea is to elect a hometown boy. I am so tired of hearing ” I am doing this for my boys” There is so much more to this position than that. There is no way a Superintendent should be an elected position but the wool seems to be pulled over many peoples eyes because they “want someone who works for their kids”. If I may get on a soap box for a moment, the primary role of the superintendent is not teaching your kids! The primary role of the superintendent in finance, followed by school law, budgeting, etc. It is providing the framework to educate your kids in an effective and safe environment. That is why it takes a qualified expert, not a teacher that wants to be superintendent for his boys!

    So what does this mean in our current situation? Well, here is how I see it… we are stuck in quite the predicament. Come June 3rd we have to elect someone so let’s compare our choices.

    1. Matt Massey – There is no way on God’s green earth he should be considered. He is a teacher with no experience running a school, especially the size of Madison County. If this was an appointed position he wouldn’t even be considered. He is being funded by groups with agendas and has too many “ties” to the community. Obviously I have more specific reasoning but I won’t get into it here. Unfortunately, I am worried people are blinded by his “I’m just wanting to work for you” lines.I must say I am scared for our school system if he gets elected.

    2. Ronnie Blair – At least he has been a school administrator. But that is about all I can say about him. He has a better understanding of what it takes but again if was to apply for this job as an outsider he wouldn’t get a call back. He too, has some ties to the community and some relationships that make me very nervous on his true agendas.

    3. So that leaves us with Dr. Copeland. He is the only one of the three candidates that has the experience, education, and training. I know feelings about him are mixed but he is the ONLY qualified candidate. If we look objectively, he has not hurt our school at all. Could things be better? Probably. But he has actually improved a few things in a short period of time. He is the only candidate with finance training, school law training, business administration experience, etc. So to me this is the easy and only choice.

    We aren’t going to be able to solve the elected vs appointed debate in this election so I ask that we not hurt our school further while we try to figure this problem out. Let’s elect the obvious, logical choice of Dr. Copeland. Please, for our kids.

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