Parents renew discussion about Madison County superintendent appointment vs. election

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Should a county superintendent be appointed, or elected?

The issue has resurfaced in Madison County, where the superintendent is currently elected to the position.

But some area parents are pushing to change that. They have set up a meeting on Oct. 28 to talk about switching to an appointment system for the county superintendent.

A county school leader hasn’t been chosen that way since 1991, when Alabama legislators passed a local act to switch to the current election method.

Julian Butler, former county attorney, said, “The first election where a superintendent was on the ballot then was in 1994.”

Butler remembers that switch. But now, he believes “it’s something we have had through history, but it’s time to be gone.”

While supporters of the current system say it’s fine the way it is, those of Butler’s mindset believe the election method that stands now has the potential to cause problems.

“The way it’s set up now, you have to run in a party primary and then again in the general election. And I think there’s just too many qualified educators who would not go through that process,” said Butler.

He also shares a belief with the parents heading the effort for change: that this appointment style of superintendent-choosing would better unify the school system.

“He or she is hired by the board. And so they must carry out the policy of the board,” he summarized.

The group heading the effort is a parent-led one that’s unaffiliated with the school board. They will meet on Oct. 28 to discuss the issue.

Legislators tell WHNT News 19 that this is the correct first step, but one of many needed to bring about a change of this magnitude.

“It won’t be just one meeting. There will be a lot of talk. A lot of discussion,” said Representative Mike Ball. But he said it’s a long road gaining public support before legislators take action. “The people need to want it. And if the people want it, then I’m confident we’ll do it.”

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