Patrick Ryan, the man behind Vote Yes for Okaloosa Schools sat down for an interview for our public affairs program.
Mr. Ryan talked about his personal history in the military and in Okaloosa County.
Ryan advised after what the students and the parents of those students went through not to long ago he wanted an alternative to the current system we have in place which is electing a superintendent of schools.
“When it comes to holding our superintendent of schools in Okaloosa County accountable, we have to rely on a politician in Tallahassee, the Governor of Florida, to do that for us”, Ryan said. We don’t actually have the power here is Okaloosa outside of an elections cycle to hold that elected superintendent of schools accountable.
Vote Yes For Okaloosa Schools wants to put a referendum on the ballot to allow the citizens in Okaloosa County the opportunity to switch to a selection method.
Under this method, which the Florida constitution allows, the Okaloosa County School Board would hire a Superintendent. This would put the position under a contract. Therefore, the school board would hire the superintendent, and if need be fire them, and hold them accountable.
According to Ryan, in 2019, 26 of the 67 counties hire/appoint a superintendent and the remaining 41 counties elect. In 2020, that number changes slightly to 29 counties hire/appoint a superintendent and the remaining 38 elect.
Escambia County will be one of the 3 new counties to appoint their superintendent starting in November of 2020. Ryan also stated 48 of the 50 states appoint a superintendent of schools with Alabama and Florida being the only two states that still hold elections.
According to the website Yes For Okaloosa Schools, here are some of the reasons why Ryan thinks we should appoint a superintendent.
- The prerequisite to run as an elected superintendent in FL requires NO experience in education. The only requirement is “that the person must not be convicted of a felony or be adjudicated mentally incompetent and must live in the school district they wish to represent.”
- An Appointed Superintendent can be held more accountable. An appointed superintendent is able to focus exclusively on the day-to-day tasks of managing the school district and working on strategic initiatives with the elected School Board.
- Right now, voters only get to make one brief input one time every four years into who leads the school district. If we appoint the Superintendent, every voter can make more in-depth, quality inputs directly to School Board members regarding the Superintendent selection and retention, and they can do so regularly, not just once every four years.
- Only 29% of registered voters in Okaloosa County voted in the 2016 election for Superintendent of Schools. That meant only a small fraction of citizens in Okaloosa County had any input on who the new Superintendent would be.
- When choosing a new principal or sports coach in Okaloosa County, there is an interview process with input from administrators, teachers, and parents to choose the best candidate. Shouldn’t we be doing the same thing to find the best individual to lead the school system for our children’s education?
During the interview, Ryan discussed the cost difference between the two as well as the length of contracts and retention of those contracts.