Voters to decide if Clay school superintendent will be elected or appointed

by: Amanda Warford Updated:

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CLAY COUNTY, Fla. —

The Clay County School Board decided during its meeting Thursday night that voters will decide in November if the school district's superintendent should be elected or appointed.

Action News was at the hours-long meeting, where much of the public comment was heated.

In 2012, current Superintendent Charlie Van Zant was elected by the public, but some school board members say the next superintendent should be appointed by the board. Some residents are for appointment of a superintendent, arguing that the board would choose the most qualified candidate.

"This is a critical time for Clay County schools. We need the best management team that we can assemble to ensure that educational excellence is maintained I encourage the school board to support the appointment," said Sylvia.

"What this county needs is an appointed superintendent that's under the control of the board of education," said Richard Bachman. 

Other residents spoke out in favor of an elected superintendent, saying parents of the district's 35,000 students have the right to decide for themselves.

"Should an appointment be unnecessarily placed on a Nov. 4 ballot, the answer will still be no," said Wendy Powell.

"I for one, appreciate the right to vote. Whether or not I like either candidate doesn't matter. It's the sanctity of the vote that's relevant," one citizen said.

Van Zant started with the district as a teacher and spent 14 years on the board before taking office. But his decisions regarding employees, conference funding and payment of attorney fees have been highly scrutinized by some board members, including Board Chair Carol Studdard, who filed the resolution.

In surrounding Duval and St. Johns counties, school district superintendents are appointed by the school board.