Madison Co. superintendent race: A case study for eliminating elected positions for school administrators?

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Next week’s runoff vote will name a new Madison County school superintendent.

Matt Massey, a math teacher at Buckhorn High School and Ronnie Blair, the current principal at Sparkman Middle both have educational experience.

There will of course only be one victor. So when the loser goes back to work away from the campaign trail they’ll have to cooperate with their former opponent.

WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown (Photo: WHNT)

WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown (Photo: WHNT)

 

“This contest for the Madison County School Superintendent’s job is a beautiful case study for why the chief executive officer of a public school system should never be an elected position – period.”

 

We spoke with WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown political/professional dichotomy.

“It’s clearly been east versus west,” says Brown, “there’s no doubt about that.”

Both men agree budgets are the largest hurdle the county school system faces – the candidates¬†aren’t necessarily on the same page about how to surmount that obstacle.

“One of the staff members I would like to create or staff positions is a director of development,” Massey said in a WHNT interview last week. “And their primary job is going to be to bring in resources to Madison County.”

“We better make sure we save money,” Blair countered. “There may be places we need to reduce some positions in central office – I’m not sure of that, that’s something we’ve got to look at doing – we certainly don’t want to add any positions at this point is what I’m trying to say.”

Then you have to consider the whole turf war aspect in play with these two candidates, Brown points out.

“Regional or geographical tensions caused by the fact that west Madison County has generally been high growth and more affluent and could make a more legitimate claim for new schools,” Browns posits.

He says the race, though, has a more systemic problem.

“This contest for the Madison County School Superintendent’s job is a beautiful case study for why the chief executive officer of a public school system should never be an elected position – period.”

Brown says there are just too many distractions involved when the focus needs to be on education.

“When you start electing school superintendents, you get the chief administrative officer caught up in partisan politics, campaign financing and PAC contributions.”

Not to mention, Brown says, the opportunity for the superintendent to be at odds politically with the board – the very policy-making entity for the school system.

“This election will hopefully be wakeup call for the legislative delegation to fix the problem,” Brown finishes.

 

 

 

1 Comment

  • Jim

    That is exactly the problem with elected superintendents. You basically get a politician not a manager. They have to worry about pleasing their voters and not necessarily doing what is best for their schools. Its one thing to have elected school board positions by district but the school board should be able to form a search committe or hire a search firm to find sound well qualified individuals for the position of leading the school system. No need to mix politics with it. I saw an article that said there are only about 150 or so elected school superintendents in the US.

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