Voters Will Decide Whether to Have an Appointed or Elected State Board of Education

MONTGOMERY — The Legislature has given final approval to a plan that would replace the elected state K-12 board of education with a new commission appointed by the governor.

The voters ultimately will decide whether to make that change. Because it is a proposed constitution, it will go on the ballot for voters’ approval in the next election.

If approved, it would be a monumental overhaul of public education governance in the state and end Alabama’s status as one of the few states with an elected board.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, who is sponsoring the bill, said earlier that it allows for more scrutiny of potential education decision makers.

“The nominations have to go through a vetting process in the Senate before confirmation,” Marsh said. “Right now, citizens are taking a shot in the dark. Most citizens don’t really get to know those individuals (they vote for), so it’s a shot in the dark because there is not background checks or (a) vetting process for them.”

The proposed new nine-member Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education would consist of members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, including one from each congressional district. The commission would appoint a state education secretary who would replace the state superintendent. That position would also have to be confirmed by the Senate.

The legislation says the governor “shall ensure” that the commission membership reflects the geographical, gender and racial diversity of the public school enrollment. Members would serve six-year staggered terms.