Should superintendents be elected? Knox Co. to weigh in

8:53 AM, Feb 7, 2013   |    comments
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Since 1992 school boards across Tennessee have appointed school superintendents.

And since 1992, there have been people who wanted to change that.

Knox County Commissioners intend to weigh in on the subject during their meeting this month and so does the state legislature.

Commissioner Dave Smith is sponsoring a resolution "expressing support of state legislation providing for elected School Superintendents in the State of Tennessee."

But he says that doesn't mean he's necessarily in favor of it.

"Some people want to elect, some want to appoint, there needs to be a discussion," says Wright. "If the people want to elect, then I'd like to be in there electing one."

Former Loudon County Superintendent Ed Headlee says experience has taught him better.

These days, he enjoys the manual labor that comes with running a cattle farm.

"It's not as stressful as mental work," says Headlee while drilling screws in to 'no trespassing' signs for his property.

But for more than thirty years he led the school system.

Voters elected him superintendent in 1972.

"It felt great, I was just shy of thirty two years old," recalls Headlee.

At the time that was the way he believed a school system should be run.

"After going through the process, I firmly believed in that. If you were qualified for the job and you wanted the job, you ran and the people made their choice," says Headlee.

But when he retired to the farm, he left as an appointed superintendent. State law had changed and so had his opinion.

"If you don't have to run for election every four years, you don't have to spend a lot of the time out campaigning," says Headlee.

He says that allows superintendents to focus on kids, not politics.

"You also are free to make decisions you feel are in the best interest of the children. Regardless of that makes somebody made or not," says Headlee.

Wright says Nashville wants the county's input on the issue.

"They're asking me for what Knox County thinks and I've put it in as a resolution to discuss it, support it, or turn it back," says Wright.

Headlee says he misses some parts of his old job, especially helping children.

But he says he won't miss out on this debate.

"The cows don't complain as much," says Headlee.

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