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Representative suggests MPS superintendent be an elected position

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Rep. Rep.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

As the Montgomery Public School system prepares for another superintendent search, WSFA 12 News has learned that Barbara Thompson has still not signed and returned the mutual separation agreement with the system. The agreement is part of a deal that led to her resignation as superintendent earlier in the week.

While the community waits to hear the latest, some are wondering if the superintendent's job should become an elected position.

"If you are gonna be competitive, then you ultimately have to have a vehicle that can compete," says Rep. Thad McClammy (D-Montgomery0, and right now he believes MPS is struggling in the race.

[EXTRA READ: Expert believes time not on Montgomery's side in search for new supt.]

"If you count all the superintendents that we've had in the last 20 years, you had more superintendents than you had mayors in city hall," McClammy explains, "and you had more superintendents than you had probate judges in Montgomery County, and more superintendents than you've had sheriffs in Montgomery County."

So McClammy is considering a move he's tried once before, to present a bill to the Alabama Legislature that would make the Montgomery Superintendent an elected position. McClammy first introduced the bill in the 2011 legislative session but it did not pass.

"At least if it were to be an elected position, I think one would be there for a minimum of 4 years," McClammy says. "And I don't think all these we've talked about for the last 20 years lasted 4 years, so at least there would be a period of stability for a minimum of 4 years. The stability of any administration is always preferred."

"Right off the top of my head I would not probably be supportive," says Montgomery mayor Todd Strange, "but I would keep an open mind."

Mayor Strange is concerned about the recall provision. "What if you got into a situation where you didn't like, or they did some things? So the Devil's always in the details," he cautions.

And Mayor Strange says he'd like to explore a slightly different idea. "I would like, frankly, to see about an appointed board, as opposed to an elected board," he says.

The mayor says that way, "The city puts in money, the county puts in money, and the legislature puts in money, so maybe those three entities ought to have a little say in who might be controlling the future of your community. Adding, "Education is the centerpiece of any municipality, and frankly, I get held accountable, our city council is held accountable, county commission gets held accountable for the activities of a group that is elected outside of us."

"The voice of 100,000 people is a lot stronger to me than the voice of 7 members of the school board, 9 members of the city council, 5 members of the county commission," McClammy says though even he admits right now is not the right time to make changes.

McClammy says there are too many emotions still on too many sleeves after this week's events, but he says he's at least revisiting the idea and looking at similar school districts in Alabama and other states and considering whether he should bring the bill up again.

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