Vote Yes for Escambia Schools.

Myths vs. Facts

Myth vs. Fact: Get the Answers Here.

MYTH: An appointed superintendent means I will give up my vote.

TRUTH: This is one of the more common scare tactics of the elected-format supporters who have continued to keep the status quo by shielding themselves from accountability and transparency. Because such little attention is paid to the school superintendent race by the general voting public, the politician who raises the most campaign dollars – not the most qualified candidate – has a distinct advantage. And this is why 99.5% of the nation doesn’t use this elected method.

Ask yourself this: Our Escambia County Commission has an elected board and an appointed administrator. Our federal government has elected representatives that are charged with voting on our behalf. A move to an appointed system is no different than formats that we have already in place.

The public is not giving up its say. The public will always elect the school board. The people we are putting in place because they are experts in the educational field, they understand the needs of our school district and – just like a U.S. Representative or one of our county commissioners – we elect them to make the decisions they are most qualified to make because of their knowledge of the inner workings of our system.

However, if you don’t like the direction of our school district, you STILL have the right to make your voice heard and replace the leadership of the school board with your vote every four years.

Better yet, the appointed format allows our school board to hold the superintendent accountable in their contract with hitting metrics and goals or they are replaced. That accountability will never exist in an elected format. That accountability is also completely transparent.

The elected format survives on disengaged citizens to vote for whichever local person purchases the most yard signs or commercials, and once in office, they can remain there as long as they are an effective politician. Only the governor can remove them.

MYTH: An appointed superintendent is more expensive and will just cost more money.

TRUTH: Yes, salaries for experienced, credentialed superintendents are slightly more expensive. But this is a tiny fraction of a single percent of the county school budget, although pro-elected supporters will lead you to believe it’s significantly more.

The truth is that an appointed professional will make up that added expense with performance and other cost savings. For example, the Escambia School District is currently bringing in an outside company to operate nine schools in our area due to poor performance (also known as a third-party appointment by lack of results).

One school, Warrington Middle, is under contract with this educational consulting company for $600,000 over the next three years. Taxpayers are on the hook for two more years at an undisclosed amount. More effectiveness, just eliminating expenses like this, would pay the appointed salary increase for decades.

It’s the simple slogan we all know well: You get what you pay for, and a national professional superintendent is no different.

MYTH: Appointed superintendents don’t stay around for long.

TRUTH: The average tenure of an appointed superintendent is shorter than an elected superintendent. Pro-elected supporters will attempt to mislead and say this is because appointed superintendents are less effective.

They rely on the myth that because an elected superintendent has been in their job longer that means they’re doing a better job.

Ask yourself: Have you ever worked at a job where the longest tenured person was always effective?

The real truth to this is that an elected superintendent is extremely hard to replace. Incumbent superintendent politicians almost always outraise the competition during election time, and only the governor can remove them from office.

The appointed superintendent format has so much more accountability and transparency, including standard and metrics written into the hired professional superintendent’s contract.  This means when those goals aren’t hit, a change can be made more easily. That’s healthy for our county, and our school system.

In short, when someone isn’t getting the job done, you don’t have to wait another 4, 8 or 12 years to get a chance for a change. Our community can demand it because the goals are in writing.

Sometimes appointed superintendents leave for other jobs. As the No. 52 ranked school district in Florida out of 67, we would be fortunate to have a professional move here, be here 4 to 5 years and improve our system so much that a larger area would want to hire them.

That leaves our children, teachers, and parents in a better place and only makes us more attractive to the next hire.

MYTH: Appointed school superintendents are outsiders who don’t understand our community.

TRUTH: This myth another scare tactic by fans of the status quo. In fact, there are several appointed superintendents in our state and around the nation who are local. And because of local ties, it’s safe to assume a local candidate would have an advantage because of their familiarity with our community.

That said, the appointed process ensures that our community gets the best available candidate. Not the best available politician.

For example, St. John’s County, the top performing county in Florida in 2017-18, has an appointed local superintendent. The difference is, like in St. John’s County, is that he competed with the best the nation has to offer.

In the case of St. John’s County, their superintendent beat out three decorated finalists: The sitting super in Knox County, Tenn. (Knoxville), the sitting super in Monroe County, Fla. (Florida Keys) and a high ranking official in the Orange County School District (Orlando).

It gives our community the best of both worlds. We can welcome local candidates who are the most qualified AND local candidates who may not otherwise take the job because they’re professionals who do not want to run a political campaign.

Our community also has the checks and balances of making sure our local candidate has the resume to beat out the best candidates from across the country.