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Resolution proposes state superintendent selection be subject to governor, Senate

Published: Saturday, Sept. 5 2015 4:17 a.m. MDT

The Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would give the governor and Senate approval and confirmation power over the State School Board's selection of a state superintendent. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) The Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would give the governor and Senate approval and confirmation power over the State School Board's selection of a state superintendent. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A proposed constitutional amendment giving the governor and Senate power over the State School Board's selection of a state superintendent received a strong show of support Friday in the Senate.

Senators voted 21-1 in favor of SJR12 on second reading, suggesting the resolution is well on its way to capture the required two-thirds majority to advance to the House.

Resolution sponsor Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, said the action would put public education in line with higher education and the Utah College of Applied Technology, where the chief executive is appointed by a governing board, approved by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

Doing that, Reid said, would contribute to a "seamless and productive education system from kindergarten through graduate school."

"It does not remove any authority from the State School Board," he said. "Their constitutional authority remains intact."

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, suggested that the resolution does not go far enough.

Dabakis suggested that if the constitution is to be amended, lawmakers should take the opportunity to eliminate the "skiwampus" elected State School Board — often referred to as the "fourth branch of government" — and place public education under the direction of the executive branch as it is in many states.

In doing that, he said, voters would be able to simply replace the governor if they disagreed with the management of public schools.

"I wish we’d just dump the whole thing," Dabakis said.

The bill will be read for a third time in the Senate. It requires a two-thirds majority of both chambers, as well as ratification by voters, prior to taking effect.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com Twitter: bjaminwood

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