Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Video: Fundamental Changes in Local Education Gain Momentum

Two bills making fundamental changes in the way local school districts are led and get their funding are gaining momentum in the Legislature.

One has been a thorn in the sides of county supervisors and city councils across the state for years. But it may be about to change.
A bill making its way through the Legislature would give boards of supervisors and city councils veto authority over school budgets. In the past, city and county governments had little choice but to approve millage rates necessary to fund local school budgets.

That’s increasingly resulted in conflicts between the two groups.

Last year, Columbus forced the school district to cut its budget through public political posturing.

Supporters of the bill say local legislative bodies better understand local government finances and shouldn’t be forced to rubber stamp school funding requests.

And the effort to end elected school superintendents in Mississippi is gaining momentum.

The House Education Committee approved a bill Thursday that would require all school superintendents to be hired by school boards by 2016. That’s the year of the next round of county elections.

The House previously has been the roadblock to similar efforts. Nationwide, only 147 school superintendents are elected and 64 of those are in Mississippi.

Supporters of the bill say it will improve education leadership by widening the pool of qualified superintendents, especially in small, rural counties. Opponents say it takes away voter choice.

The Senate Education Committee has approved a similar bill that allows counties to continue with elected superintendents if local voters say that’s what they want.