Escambia School Board Rejects Return To An Elected Superintendent

March 22, 2023

The Escambia County School board voted down a proposal to return to an elected superintendent during a Tuesday night meeting.

Board member Kevin Adams brought forward a resolution to officially request a referendum to switch superintendent back to an elected job. The Escambia County Commission would then would have considered a resolution asking the legislature to place the question on the ballot during the presidential preference primary on March 19, 2024.

Adams and board member Paul Fetsko voted in favor of putting the elected superintendent back on the ballot for voters, while Patty Hightower, Bill Slayton and David Williams voted against.

In 2018, Escambia County voters narrowly approved a ballot referendum for an appointed superintendent, with 50.36 voting yes and 49.64 percent voting now. This was the sixth time voters had considered the idea of an appointed superintendent in the county; all of the other attempts failed.

The term of then superintendent Malcolm Thomas ended in 2020, and Dr. Tim Smith was appointed as the new school district boss.


26 Responses to “Escambia School Board Rejects Return To An Elected Superintendent”

  1. John Bone Jones on March 23rd, 2023 2:05 pm

    @What, you do realize that the majority of registered voters in the U.S. are democrats, right?

  2. Once again on March 22nd, 2023 5:08 pm

    Pretty easy for Slayton to win over and over when he runs as the only candidate time after time. Term limits would be nice but the sitting members will never vote for it. Of course Tim Smith says appointed is the way to go……….I mean let’s go for the obvious self-preservation on this folks. Voters have the power as long as the election isn’t rigged from the start. And @Joy, where did you come up with our great governor having anything to do with this? Can you POSSIBLY substantiate that claim? Didn’t think so.

  3. David Greene on March 22nd, 2023 4:27 pm

    The problem is, no one heard Dr Smith until he was chosen by friends of Quint Studer. Studer was behind the campaign to choose a Superintendent.

  4. Dennis S on March 22nd, 2023 3:05 pm

    @ Jason. I totally agree with you. VOTE NO for Bill and Patty. It’s long overdue.

    Tim Smith got the position following a voter-approved referendum in 2018 to change superintendent from an elected position to an appointed one. Now you have those 3 board members to vote NO to changing it back. Get them out of office and maybe the School System will survive in the future. But don’t look for changes any time soon. Getting rid of Smith should be the first step in saving our Schools.

  5. CJ Lewis on March 22nd, 2023 1:34 pm

    No one ran against Bill Slayton in 2012, 2016 or 2020. Under state law, if no one runs against an incumbent they win without their name ever being on the ballot. School board members get paid $42,000+ plus whatever medical and retirement benefits go with the job. That’s a pretty sweet deal for a part-time job. Slayton is 75. Time for new blood on the school board. How about a parent with some real kids in school?

  6. Travis on March 22nd, 2023 11:24 am

    Never ever ever give up your right to vote on anything! Only sheep give up rights.

  7. TOM on March 22nd, 2023 11:20 am

    I’m sorry but this county has a long history of very poor elected superintendents. An appointed superintendent can at least be held instantly accountable by the board. There has been a pattern of get elected by catering to the teacher’s union, exploit the “good ole boy” system, hang on four years to build up a excessive retirement then leave a financial mess to be paid by the taxpayers. Trivia: Mike Holloway was the highest paid superintendent in the State of Florida the day that he was elected even though he had no educational back ground.

  8. Jason on March 22nd, 2023 10:26 am

    at Joy…..
    Governor DeSantis had nothing to do with the decision on appointed or elected Superintendent. The voters in Escambia County passed the measure to approve an appointed Superintendent on 11/16/18, by a slim .36% percentage equating to 910 votes. IMHO, it was and remains a horrible decision.

    Apparently the School Board knows that an appointed superintendent hasnt fulfilled the role as expected, or they wouldnt have an issue allowing AN INFORMED VOTER to vote on the measure again. Regardless, the Governor had no nothing to do with the measure. And besides, the Governor in office at the time of the vote in 2018 was Rick Scott. So take your hatred of Governor DeSantis elsewhere.

  9. Carolyn Bramblett on March 22nd, 2023 10:20 am

    Mr.Slayton has done nothing to improve the schools. The questions put forward for the hunt for the Superintendent showed they were looking for someone ‘woke’ anyway. Malcolm Thomas was elected but a loser, as well.

  10. Beach Boy on March 22nd, 2023 10:04 am

    REMEMBER who your School Board member is and how they voted against Elected Superintendent…AND VOTE THEM OUT!!! GOOD BYE Patty Hightower. Bill Slayton….I’ve known you since the 80’s and I’m REALLY surprised at how you’ve turned out!!!

  11. Stumpknocker on March 22nd, 2023 9:47 am

    @ Joy, don’t think the governor had anything to do with this, it was voted for by the citizens of Escambia County.

  12. FTP on March 22nd, 2023 9:33 am

    @Jason I agree 100%

  13. FTP on March 22nd, 2023 9:32 am

    My votes will be for new board members next election!

  14. DoBe on March 22nd, 2023 9:21 am


  15. NOT HAPPY on March 22nd, 2023 8:57 am


  16. What on March 22nd, 2023 8:34 am

    The libs have infiltrated our county.

  17. OhYouKnow on March 22nd, 2023 8:29 am

    This issue was decided when the citizens voted to have this an appointed position in 2018.

    The population in the failing school districts carry the majority of the responibility for their schools receiving a failing grade. I don’t care who the superintendent is, they cannot make positive changes if the parents of the children in these districts couldn’t care less about education or the rule of law.

    Ignorance breeds ignorance. Until the parents in these areas decide to become productive responsible citizens and involve themselves in the education of their children, there will be little if any change.

  18. TM17 on March 22nd, 2023 8:22 am

    There Bill goes again…Bill Slayton.Attempts to portray himself as a local North Escambian who aligns with our values, but is really beholden to the “Downtown Crowd” political structure.

  19. M in Bratt on March 22nd, 2023 8:07 am

    @Joy; I think you are totally confused about this issue. Our Governor had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to go to an appointed Superintendent of Schools in Escambia County. This issue was brought forward by the sitting School Board, and the County Commission approved putting it on the ballot. The voters narrowly approved enacting this change. You are correct that this move was designed to dilute the power parents, voters, and tax payers have to oversee the operation of the schools, and if you bother to check, you will find that the teachers unions are pushing this change all over the country.

  20. Rusty Shakleford on March 22nd, 2023 8:05 am

    There is a difference between guide and control.. It’s obvious there are 3 that want control over anything else. Our elected leaders are elected because guidance is needed in such matters. Thoughtful guidance is acquired through the input of those who put them there. Control is acquired through your own self-centered little world of thoughts and actions. Guidance Counselors anyone? Not control counselors. Karma is coming to those who abide by their own agenda and it can’t be soon enough.

  21. joy on March 22nd, 2023 6:55 am

    of course it should remain an elected office-but the governor you put back in-wants it all to come from Tallahassee–and where is the uproar the parents should be displaying—keep letting little things like this and you will have NO RIGHTS

  22. Molino on March 22nd, 2023 6:45 am

    That’s why we need new School board members.

  23. Preston Bryan on March 22nd, 2023 6:41 am

    That is sad we get stuck with someone who does not care for our kids just a job.

  24. Well on March 22nd, 2023 6:22 am

    That’s OK Mr. Slayton.
    I do get to vote against you.

  25. Steve on March 22nd, 2023 5:40 am

    elected or appointed ; the taxpayers see failure from these people running the Escambia County School System .

  26. Jason on March 22nd, 2023 3:31 am

    Bill Slayton and Patty Hightower have continued to vote against the best interest of the taxpayers. This is just another example of how they are out of touch with those who pay for the operations of the school district.

    If you cant cats a vote for the Superintendent, then be sure to VOTE NO for Bill Slayton and Patty Hightower. They raised your taxes during the pandemic for what amounted to was a “just because we can” mentality and tonight they once again voted to save the job of an “Appointed Superintendent”. IMHO, Its time for Bill Slayton and Patty Hightower to leave public office.

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.