Interpretation's Date: February 13, 2007
by superintendent Steven L. Paine
Section: III. County Educational Administration
SubSection: B. County Superintendents
To: County Superintendents
Many of you have asked questions regarding the time frame in which a county board of education can appoint a new superintendent or extend the contract of an existing superintendent.
Previously, an Attorney General opinion from 1964 stated that the superintendent "should be elected by his county board of education between January 1 and May 1 of that year." 51 Op. Atty Gen, 62, 65 (1964). Accordingly, a board could not hire a new superintendent or renew a contract with an existing superintendent until after January 1 of the year in which the contract expired.
However, since 1964, the law regarding the time frame for both the election of county board of education members and the appointment of a county superintendent has changed. Today, board elections are held in May instead of November, and newly elected board members begin their term on July 1 rather than January 1.
Though no official opinion has been issued, I have received new advice from the Office of the Attorney General regarding this issue. This new advice indicates that, as a result of the change in law, it is no longer necessary to require a board to wait until January to hire a new superintendent. However, in years in which a board election occurs, it is still necessary to wait until at least July 1 to ensure that the newest members of the board are permitted to vote on their superintendent. Allowing a vote before the newly elected members take office would allow lame duck members to vote for a superintendent "whose policies and program may not be in harmony with the views and policies of the majority of the county board of education. . . ." 51 Op. Atty Gen at 65.
I believe that this same reasoning would apply to issuing a new contract to an existing superintendent. After July 1 of a year in which new board members are elected (a primary election year), the board may vote to grant an additional contract to an existing superintendent if the new contract will take effect prior to the next county board election/primary election.