Four facts about elected vs. appointed superintendents

Find out why 98 percent of school districts have an appointed superintendent.


Coming on the heels of the tax referendum controversy is a new proposal to have an elected, instead of School Board-appointed, Superintendent for Duval County Public Schools (DCPS). The Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) has been closely tracking the proposal as the bill prepares to go before the Florida Legislature for a full vote during its 2020 session. JPEF will be informing policymakers and the community about the issue as it moves ahead.


4 Facts about Elected vs. Appointed School Boards

1. Duval County moved way from an elected superintendent in the 1960s for good reason.

  • The last time Duval County Public Schools had an elected superintendent was in the 1960s, during which time the district lost accreditation.
  • At that time, an independent report from the George Peabody College for Teachers recommended an appointed superintendent to help facilitate good working relationships with the school board and promote creative leadership, which is difficult to achieve with the politics surrounding superintendent elections.

2. An elected superintendent would most likely harm school quality because it minimizes both the number of qualified candidates and likelihood of a strong match with the school board.

  • For example, a contender for elected superintendent must be a resident of that county, which automatically narrows the field of qualified candidates. In Jacksonville, the residency requirement would have excluded seven of the nine superintendents selected since 1969, when that position switched from elected to appointed.

3. It is rare for large urban districts to have elected superintendents.

  • Across Florida, the seven largest school districts (Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach, Duval, and Pinellas, in order of size) have appointed superintendents.
  • A 1990 analysis sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education reported 97.8 of the nation’s school districts have superintendents appointed by the local school board.

4. Voters already have a say in our school district through our School Board elections.

  • Right now, our superintendent is appointed - by an elected body. Our 7-member School Board has elections every two years that allow voters to weigh in on the direction of the district, including who becomes superintendent.

On Nov. 1, the Duval Delegation, a group of state legislators who represent Duval County, voted 6-2 to advance the measure to the Florida Legislature in its upcoming session. Contact your member of the Duval Delegation to make your voice heard as the full Legislature considers the J-1 bill.




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.