Monday, January 11, 2016

John Bel Edwards has said he wants to replace schools chief John White, but it's not clear he can | NOLA.com

John Bel Edwards has said he wants to replace schools chief John White, but it's not clear he can | NOLA.com:

John Bel Edwards has said he wants to replace schools chief John White, but it's not clear he can

Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards finished up announcing most of his major cabinet appointments and other top staff selections this week -- with one notable exception. Edwards has been quiet recently about what -- if anything -- he might try to do about Louisiana schools superintendent John White.
During the gubernatorial campaign, Edwards said several times he would like to see White replaced with a homegrown Louisiana educator. But since becoming governor-elect, he has gone silent on the current superintendent. 
The issue is somewhat pressing. White's contract with the state expires Tuesday (Jan. 12), the day after Edwards takes office. Without a renewal, White will essentially be running the Department of Education on a month-to-month basis. 
Edwards' silence could be because, as governor, he won't actually have direct control over whether White stays or goes. That power rests with the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, where it's thought there aren't enough anti-White votes to get rid of the superintendent.
Eight of BESE 11 incoming members would have to approve a new superintendent's contract. It's thought that only four board members would be in favor of replacing White.  
"I don't plan on making any changes with Superintendent White," said Holly Boffy, a BESE member who may have a shot at becoming head of the board.  
Still, White doesn't quite have enough BESE votes to get his contract renewed. He would need eight BESE members to want to keep him. It's thought that he only has seven at this time. 
Edwards could put considerable pressure on BESE to get rid of White if desired, especially through the budget process. BESE is meeting next week -- the same day White's contract expires -- though a discussion of the superintendent is not on the agenda. 
When asked about Edwards current views on White, the governor-elect's spokesman, Richard Carbo, would only say Edwards hasn't released any public statements about White recently. 
For what it's worth, White has consistently said he would like to keep his job. "If the board wants me to stay, I'll stay," he reiterated in an interview this week.
White and Edwards have also met once in person since Edwards became governor-elect. The meeting has been described as friendly by both sides. The two men had a previous relationship. They would get together once or twice per year for lunch when Edwards was a state representative and sat on the Louisiana House Education Committee. 
Still, Edwards and White don't see eye-to-eye on major education issues and were often on the opposite sides of debates over policy when Edwards was in the John Bel Edwards has said he wants to replace schools chief John White, but it's not clear he can | NOLA.com:

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