February 13, 2013 9:39:15 AM
JACKSON -- State senators want to end the election of local school superintendents, raise the requirements for becoming a teacher and limit the state's ability to take over schools in Mississippi.
The state Senate passed bills to do all three Tuesday. Each bill goes to the House for more debate.
Meanwhile, the House passed a bill that would require the state Department of Education to refigure the state's public school funding formula annually. Such a move could, at least for a time, cut the amount of money per student called for by the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. That bill moves on to the Senate.
Senate Bill 2199 calls for all local superintendents to be appointed by school boards, unless voters opt out. Now, 62 superintendents in county districts are elected. Heads of the remaining 89 city and county districts are appointed. The Senate passed the bill 45-6. Republicans control both chambers.
Superintendents could still be elected in any district where voters choose to continue. A referendum would be called if 20 percent of registered voters -- or 1,500 voters, whichever is less -- sign a petition. Such elections could only be held in November 2013 or November 2014. If an election is not held, the superintendent would automatically become appointed.
Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, said the measure would allow small districts to look beyond their own borders for leaders, and allow school boards to remove ineffective superintendents without waiting until the next election.
"It will improve school governance," Tollison said.