DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - Should the public get a say or should Mississippi school superintendents be appointed? In Mississippi, counties are split on how school's top administrators are chosen. Recently, the state's moving closer to appointments.
State lawmakers have been debating this for years. Mississippi has roughly 150 superintendents; 64 are elected, including DeSoto County's Milton Kuykendall.
"What's brought some publicity to this is the Mississippi Senate passed that all superintendents would have to be appointed in Mississippi by 2015," he said.
The bill didn't pass the House this year, but the idea seems to be gaining steam.
Kuykendall said, "It comes up each year, but this past year the Senate passed overwhelmingly to do it, the House passed to study, it's on the agenda."
That troubles Kuykendall, who says it comes down to accountability.
"The superintendent has to have support of community to be successful, in my opinion," he said. "If you're elected you've got the support of the community or you don't have the job."
Kuykendall is elected, and says without that support it would be difficult to do his job.
As superintendent he sets the budget, handles all the money, and oversees hiring.
"One of the most important things I do is hire good principals. Good principals are going to hire good teachers."
He also deals with the state on legislative issues like this one.
One of the arguments for appointing superintendents has been widening the applicant pool, bringing in out of state candidates instead of elected administrators.
Kuykendall noted, "To be elected or appointed you have to have exactly the same qualifications; you have to have a masters in administration and you have to have four
years experience. In some counties, appointed may work great, in DeSoto County I think the superintendent needs to be elected. I like being elected, I like answering to the public."
Kuykendall has been superintendent for nine years, his third term started in 2011.
If they're approved, the earliest the changes would go into effect is 2015.