Vote Yes for Escambia Schools.

Q&A with Michelle Salzman

If we vote “yes” to Appointed Superintendent, what happens next?

Many people have been asking questions about the referendum that is on our ballot. If you haven’t voted early, On Tuesday, November 6, you will cast your vote. We have received many messages and questions from people who support this referendum but want to know what would be next.

Immediate Past President of Escambia County PTA’s Michelle Salzman took a moment to answer a few questions about this important issue for our community.

If the referendum passes, will the current Superintendent still be in charge?
YES.  Our current Superintendent will not be leaving any time soon.  He is our district’s leader until the 2020 election.  No matter if this referendum passes or fails, he is, and will be, the Superintendent until November 2020.  He still has two years left and has been working very hard to prepare our district for our next great leader.

Why now?  
This is the BEST time to make the transition.  The current Superintendent is NOT running again for the 2020 election.   So, knowing we are at a crossroad in leadership for the district, it’s the optimum time to suggest this process change.  If the referendum passes, our school district will have two full years to research, plan, and prepare for the new processes.  The first step to creating the change starts with the vote to Appoint.  Once the appointment referendum passes, then the district creates the guidelines for hiring Escambia County’s first Appointed Superintendent.

Won’t I lose my vote?  
NO! No one loses their vote.  If anything, each person’s input would be even more impactful.  How?  Each of us vote for our School Board Representative, there are only five Representatives that represent five districts.  That’s a one out of five vote.  Currently, there are thousands of voters across the county.  So, as it stands, you are one in thousands.  With Appointed, you would stand as one in five.  Calling your school board representative about an issue or with a suggestion would have a greater influence.  This would simply mean that the school board seats are that much more important.

I don’t think my school board representative is competent enough to handle that job.  
My heart breaks when people say this to me, but it’s a sad truth that many voters have expressed.  If you don’t have faith that your District Representative is fit to hire or hold a Superintendent accountable, it’s not too late!  School Board Representatives are voted in every four years, but in 2-year cycles.  Currently, we have School Districts 1, 2 & 3 Representatives are on the ballot (District 1, whom already won in the primary).  In 2020, we will have School Districts 4 & 5 Representatives up for grabs.  If you aren’t confident you made a good choice in year’s past, there is an opportunity to pay closer attention and make a more affirmative selection!

We have no plan in place, shouldn’t we create a plan, and then vote?  
It’s not that simple.  You cannot create a plan before the voters have approved the concept.  Just like you cannot build a home until you have approved plans from an architect.  The referendum must be passed first, then our district’s experts will begin the planning process.  Not only do we have two years to create a solid job description and accountability structure, we have over 99 percent of the United States’ school districts to use as guides and “models” as we begin our Appointed structuring.

How does the accountability piece work in elected versus appointed?   
There would be more accountability on the Superintendent in the appointed format. The School Board would not only hire the superintendent but may dismiss the individual if performance is unsatisfactory. Currently, a sitting Superintendent can be removed from office only by the Governor. Contractual standards and metrics can be put in place with an appointed superintendent. Those are impossible with an elected.

Where or who would be hired?  
To run for Superintendent, you merely have to be a citizen of Escambia County and have no felonies on your record.  There are no experience or education requirements, only the will to run for office.   If we vote for an Appointed Superintendent, we can pull from applicants across the country and reach all possible candidates throughout the United States.  Our School Board and School District will be able to create criteria for the candidates that are suitable for the unique needs in Escambia County.  Although, it is very common for a local resident to lead as an appointed superintendent.  If the best person to lead our children’s future already lives here, that’s great. All the better. But the appointed process ensures that the necessary experience is there, not just the ability to obtain campaign contributions.

Vote Yes for an appointed superintendent – the next to last question on your general election ballot – on Nov. 6.