Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune Credit: Gil Ford PHotography

The House and Senate passed the final versions of several education bills on Tuesday, including a makeover of the school conservatorship law and a new set of qualifications for school superintendents.

Senate Bill 2398 would require new superintendents to have at least six years of classroom or administrative experience, three of which must be as a principal of an A- or B-rated school or a school that increased its rating by a letter grade during the time the individual was principal.

The State Board of Education will also develop a set of alternative qualifications for potential superintendents who don’t meet those standards.

Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, expressed her desire that the State Board of Education include in those qualifications experience administrators have in other areas of education, such as community colleges and universities.

“We know we have some candidates that would like to have lateral movement in other education institutions, to come down to the K-12 arena,” Hill said.

“I agree with you to watch over that,” Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, told Hill.

School superintendents are currently required to hold a valid administrator’s license from the state and have at least four years of classroom or administrative experience. Current school superintendents would be grandfathered in to the system.

Both bodies also passed the bill creating Districts of Transformation, which replace the state’s current school conservatorship model.

Senate Bill 2431 changes the term “conservatorship” to “district of transformation” and the term “conservator” to “interim superintendent.” It also requires a district of transformation to maintain a C or higher rating for five consecutive years before being returned to local control.

The State Board of Education may approve returning the district to local control before the five-year period ends if it chooses to do so.

Current law does not set academic criteria for determining when a school district may come out of conservatorship.

Neither the House or the Senate took up the conference report on the dyslexia scholarship bill, or House Bill 1046.

The deadline for final adoption of conference reports for general bills is Friday at midnight.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.

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