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Effort to make Duval Co. School Superintendent an elected position put on hold

Sponsor wangled White House invite.

A controversial local bill that would create a pathway for changes in Jacksonville’s school district administration is on pause for a week.

A bill from State Rep. Jason Fischer that would make the currently appointed position an elected one was approved by the House Local Administration Subcommittee last week.

The bill is still noticed for the Pre K-12 Innovation Subcommittee as of this writing, but it doesn’t appear Fischer will be there.

When asked Monday about rumors that consideration of the bill would be temporarily postponed, the Jacksonville Republican responded with a graphic.

Pictured: an invitation to the White House for remarks by President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

If the local bill (HB 1079) becomes law, Duval voters in November 2020 would be able to vote on whether they want an elected Superintendent, setting up a potential election in 2024 to select a replacement for a position appointed for decades.

The bill is controversial even in Fischer’s hometown, opposed vociferously by the Duval County School Board, a body Fischer belonged to up until 2016.

That experience as a School Board member, often on the losing end of votes, taught him an appointed Superintendent (such as Duval has had for decades) is the “tool of politicians.”

Though education interests are cold to the proposal, which they say comes at a time Duval is turning the corner as a school district, Fischer has said his constituents are with him.

And at least one public poll backs that up. Seventy percent of respondents want an elected schools chief.

“Generally speaking, voters are inclined to support opportunities to vote for both issues and candidates,” UNF polling director Michael Binder said.

“The Superintendent position seems similar, and even though Jacksonville’s City Council was divided on the measure, there appears to be support for turning the DCPS superintendent into an elected position,” Binder said.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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