A bill squeaked by the House Tuesday that would allow prospective school superintendents to have 10 years of administrative or supervisory experience in business or a master’s degree in any subject.
The House passed an amended Senate Bill 2398 62-57 on Tuesday. The original Senate bill required a different set of qualifications for school superintendents, but the House Education Committee inserted its own language from a bill that died earlier in the session.
Rep. Rob Roberson, R-Starkville, presented the bill on the floor. Roberson told lawmakers he believes individuals with administrative or supervisory experience are equipped to deal with any situation that could come up in a school and a degree in education is not a necessity.
“He (a superintendent) doesn’t get into instruction in the classroom,” Roberson said.
Rep. Gary Staples, R-Laurel, asked why superintendents aren’t required to have doctorate degrees.
“Why didn’t you come out with some qualifications that address the problem out there?” he asked, saying he “expects better things” out of the education committee.
“So many school districts are below failing and so many others are in the margin, and we keep passing the same laws regarding qualifications for superintendents up here and allow school boards to appoint whoever they want to. That is the problem with our education,” Staples continued.
Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, attempted to add an amendment that would restore funding to the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, which the Legislature defunded last year. The amendment failed on a voice vote.
“Do you think it would be wise since we’re increasing qualifications and redirecting qualifications for school superintendents to say they should have the ability to organize as a group of professionals in the state for continuing education and advancement?” Holland asked Roberson.
“Well, it didn’t stop them from organizing,” Roberson replied.
Rep. Dan Eubanks, R-Walls, pointed out that the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents often has its annual conference at the Beau Rivage on the Gulf Coast.
“There are probably some cheaper places they can do it,” he suggested.
The bill would also require candidates with alternate qualifications be approved by a majority of the school board.
The House passed several other education-related bills:
Senate Bill 2432, doing away with the Mississippi Occupational Diploma beginning next school year except for students with severe special needs.
Senate Bill 2463, administratively consolidating Chickasaw County, Okolona and Houston school districts.
Senate Bill 2461, setting up a commission to study the consolidation of Perry Co. and Richton School Districts.