Originally created 12/15/01

Bill seeks change in school elections



ATLANTA - Georgians would get to vote for state Board of Education members but not the state school superintendent under legislation prefiled this week by a Republican senator.

Even if enacted this winter, however, the proposed constitutional amendment wouldn't affect Superintendent Linda Schrenko for two reasons. The Columbia County Republican is running for governor next year instead of seeking re-election to her current post, and the measure wouldn't take effect until the election of 2006.

Georgia voters have rejected two previous attempts to have the governor appoint the state school superintendent.

During his farewell address to the University System Board of Regents last month, retiring Chancellor Stephen Portch suggested that governors would be able to work more in harmony with superintendents they appointed rather than elected officials who might be of a different party.

Sen. Phil Gingrey of Marietta said his proposal stems in part from the political sparring that has taken place during the past three years between Mrs. Schrenko and Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat.

But Mr. Gingrey wouldn't give the governor the power to appoint the superintendent. Under his plan, the selection would be made by a 13-member board whose members would be elected by voters in each congressional district.