The Office of County Superintendent
The first School Act that established a common school system took place in 1865 while Montana was still a Territory. An editorial in the Virginia City Post had these words to say about this new school law:
“…In every inhabited spot, let schools be erected. Humble and deficient in many respects they must be, at first; but in a marvelously short time, if the endeavors of the mothers and fathers of Montana are persistent and well directed, a school system shall rise in our midst worthy of our name and station, and the riches which our children will inherit will fall into hands fitted to receive them, and to apply them intelligently for their own good and the welfare of the land of their birth…”(Anderson, 1972).
Provisions were made by law for the election of a county superintendent of schools in each county. The county superintendent assisted the State Educator Officer by setting up school districts in each of the counties that existed at that time. Other duties included:
- Examine all persons wanting to teach;
- Issue a revocable certificate, good for one year;
- Visit each school in his county taught by a qualified teacher;
- Apportion the school fund of the county among the school districts;
- Receive reports from teachers and boards;
- Make a report before December 1st on enrollments, school houses, operating districts, books used and salaries paid teachers; and
- Prevent trespassing on state school lands.
A county superintendent is an elected official who serves a four-year term. The position may be full time, part time, combined with another county office or contracted depending on the needs of the county and the government structure. The office is a service agency that responds to local needs and provides professional and educational leadership.
A person is qualified to file for and assume the office of county superintendent who:
- Is a qualified elector;
- Holds a valid, current class 1 professional certificate, class 2 standard certificate, or class 3 administrative and supervisory certificate issued by the superintendent of public instruction; and
- Has at least 3 years of successful teaching experience (20-3-201(2) MCA).
Powers and duties of the office are outlined in law.