Mississippians Back Change in State Board; Voters in Arizona Retain Current Structure
Voters in two states had an opportunity to alter the composition of their state boards of education. In Mississippi, they opted for the change; in Arizona, they retained the status quo.
The constitutional amendment approved in Mississippi will create a nine-member lay board of education. Gov. William Winter, a strong backer of the amendment, said its passage represents a "real mandate" for educational improvements. "We expected a positive vote on the lay board," Governor Winter said. "This vote will give an additional impetus and momentum to needed educational reforms in Mississippi's educational system."
With 2,145 of the state's 2,435 precincts reporting, the lay board received 179,299 favorable votes and 165,051 votes against it.
On July 1, 1984, the nine-member board will replace a three-member ex-officio board made up of the secretary of state, the attorney general, and the state superintendent of education. The new board will appoint the state superintendent of education, who is now elected.
Five board members will be appointed by the governor and two each by the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House of Representatives.
In Arizona, Proposition 104, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have expanded the state board of education from its current nine members to 15, adding one lay person and five representatives of business and industry, was defeated. Opponents of the measure, including the Arizona Education Association, contended that the change would have shifted attention away from the schools' needs and given too much authority to business leaders.
In Ohio, because of redistricting, all 21 seats on the state board of education were open; about half of the incumbents won re-election. The Democratic Governor-elect, Richard Celeste, has pledged to seek legislation that would merge that board, which oversees elementary and secondary education, with the independent State Board of Regents, which supervises higher education. Mr. Celeste also intends to promote the state department of education to cabinet level.