Resolution advances giving governor, Senate power over State School Board

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 10:10 a.m. MST

Members of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday voted in favor of a resolution that would give the governor and Senate confirmation power over the State School Board's selection of a state superintendent.

Jordan Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The State School Board's selection of a state superintendent would be subject to confirmation by the governor and Utah Senate under a proposed constitutional amendment that gained committee approval Thursday.

The proposal, SJR12, is sponsored by Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, who sponsored similar legislation last year but withdrew it from consideration.

In addition to confirmation power, the resolution would grant power to the governor and Senate to remove a state superintendent from office.

Reid said the constitutional amendment would put leadership of public education in line with the selection of the commissioner of higher education and president of the Utah College of Applied Technology, which are selected by their respective boards and confirmed by the governor and Senate.

He also suggested that involving the governor and lawmakers in the selection process would have a coordinating effect for the so-called "three silos" of education and increase support for the state superintendent of public instruction.

"All three (silos) would have the exact same process," Reid said.

The State School Board has opposed the resolution and State Superintendent Martel Menlove, speaking on their behalf, said board members are concerned the resolution would undermine the State School Board's constitutional authority.

Unlike the Board of Regents for higher education and the UCAT Board of Trustees, members of the State School Board are elected and the board's powers are enumerated in the Utah Constitution.

Because the role and power of the State School Board is different than other boards, Menlove said, the process of selecting a chief executive is also different.

"They do believe that this diminishes their role," Menlove said.

But Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said the intention of the resolution is not to undermine the State School Board but to bring commonality to the education system.

"I can understand the board wanting to jealously guard its constitutional authority," Stephenson said. "But I don’t see this as a threat to that authority as much as I view it as a bolstering of support for the role of public education and the role of the superintendent, whoever that person is, going forward."

The resolution will now go before the full Senate for consideration. Because it calls for an amendment to the constitution, a two-thirds majority of both chambers and ratification by voters is required prior to final passage.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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