VITAL POLICY – Senator Niceley Files Proposed Legislation to Permit Communities to Elect School Superintendents

For the past 30 years, citizens of have longed for the day when they could regain the right to elect their school superintendent. A voting right that was striped from Tennesseans in 1992 by a comprehensive education act that was pushed through the legislature by special interests. Until the Education Improvement Act of 1992 was signed into law by then democrat Governor Ned Ray McWherter, citizens looked forward to electing their school superintendent. For background on the subject of elected vs appointed directors, a link is provided here.

The superintendent’s race was a topic discussed at office water coolers, on construction sites, and meetings at the county courthouse, one that energized voters and promoted public involvement that influenced the direction and policies of local school districts. Electing a superintendent was a top priority with voters before 1992.

Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains), and Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro), aim to restore the right of voters in Tennessee to elect school superintendents by proposing legislation that would give local communities the option to elect, or appoint, school superintendents. Senate Bill 910 and House Bill 1244 are titled “Local School District Empowerment Act” which contain a set of safety valves to protect local school districts who wish to keep appointed school directors. In order for the office of elected school director to be established, a 2/3 vote of county commission, or city council for municipalities, would be required to place the issue on a referendum; then a majority of voters would have to approve.

The Jefferson County Commission made a formal resolution in 2022 requesting that the legislature enact or amend law to permit local communities to elect school superintendents. To see a signed copy of that resolution, click on the following link.

(Jefferson County Resolution 2022-11)

David Seal is a retired Jefferson County educator, recognized artist, local businessman, 917 Society Volunteer, and current Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. He has also served Jefferson County as a County Commissioner and is a lobbyist for the people on issues such as eminent domain, property rights, education, and broadband accessibility on the state level.