One of the first major orders of business facing the Orange County Board of Education in the new year is deciding whether to put the issue of an appointive county school superintendent on the ballot this year. The question belongs before the voters.
The post is now elective, leaving Orange County the only major county in the state that still elects its county school superintendent. Other counties, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento, follow the more professional and sensible approach used by all other local school districts and appoint the superintendent, who is responsible to the elected school board. That approach has the advantage of enabling the locally elected school board to recruit and hire a well-qualified professional educator-administrator to carry out its policies without the board losing accountability to the voters. It's the procedure Orange County ought to be using.
Voters historically are reluctant to make an elected post appointive. Orange County residents, about a decade ago, refused to make that switch. But as residents in other areas have realized, there are some jobs that better serve the public as appointive ones. The county superintendent of schools is one of them.
In the last 10 years, there have been grand jury recommendations to make the office appointive, and last year a special citizens' blue-ribbon commission, appointed by the county Board of Education at the urging of the county grand jury, concluded that there ought to be another county vote on the issue.