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 4. The Local School Superintendent

The office of the county school superintendent underwent significant changes during the last decade of the twentieth-century. Historically, the county superintendent was an elected official, unless a local act provided otherwise, accountable directly to the voters. When the county board of education was appointed by the grand jury, the superintendent had considerable autonomy to manage the daily affairs of the school district, with the board of education often serving primarily an advisory function. As more and more county school districts chose to elect their boards, superintendents often found themselves at odds with the board with each often contending that the other was infringing upon the authority of their office.

In 1992, the voters in Georgia ratified a constitutional amendment which required all local school boards to be elected and all superintendents to be appointed by this elected board. The election of the local board which, in turn, hires the superintendent has changed the dynamics of how school districts are governed, although the provisions of the state constitution and the various school laws setting out the duties of the local board and superintendent have not changed significantly since 1945. Some boards and superintendents continue to debate whether the board too often invades the province of the superintendent and attempts to micromanage the school district or whether the superintendent fails to consult and involve the board in major decisions affecting the school district. Georgia law sets forth no bright lines dividing the authority and responsibility of the board and superintendent. However, the debate is rarely confined to what the law provides. Rather, the debate most often is cast as to how each, ideally, can best participate in the leading or governing of the school district.

4. 1 What is the constitutional authority of the local school superintendent?
4. 2 What are the qualifications for selection of a superintendent of schools?
4. 3 What educational and experience requirements must be met in order to be appointed superintendent?
4. 4 Must an individual be a professional educator in order to be a superintendent?
4. 5 Is it necessary for an individual to reside in the school district in order to serve as superintendent of that district?
4. 6 Must the superintendent be bonded?
4. 7 Can a superintendent be included under a "blanket" bond?
4. 8 Must the superintendent take an oath of office as is required of other public officials?
4. 9 What are the duties and responsibilities of the superintendent specified in Georgia law?
4. 10 When may the superintendent be selected by a local board of education?
4. 11 May a board select a superintendent or re-appoint the present superintendent during the twelve months preceding the expiration of the present superintendent’s contract even if the terms of some or all of the board members will expire before the term of the new superintendent begins?
4. 12 For what term may a superintendent be appointed?
4. 13 May the superintendent’s contract provide for an automatic extension or “roll-over” clause conditioned upon the superintendent receiving favorable evaluations?
4. 14 Do superintendents earn “tenure” or other property rights in continued employment?
4. 15 What process must a board use in conducting a search for a new superintendent?
4. 16 Must the board conduct a search for a superintendent if it has a qualified candidate it wishes to appoint?
4. 17 How is the superintendent’s compensation determined?
4. 18 What benefits may the board provide the superintendent?
4. 19 How is the superintendent evaluated?
4. 20 How is the superintendent terminated?
4. 21 When a vacancy occurs in the office of the superintendent, may the board appoint or designate an individual to serve as interim superintendent while searching for a new superintendent?
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