For the first time in two decades, Maricopa County is going to have a new superintendent of schools.
Don Covey, a former superintendent for other districts in the Valley, is the lone candidate on the ballot for Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools.
Covey likely will replace Sandra Dowling, who was first elected in 1988 and is leaving the job after being elected to five four-year terms.
The changing of the guard comes on the heels of Dowling's 20 years in office, the last of which saw her plead guilty to a misdemeanor after being indicted on 25 felony charges.
Covey, 69, a Republican, said he was asked to run for his first political office by fellow school administrators. In his decades in education, Covey has served as superintendent of the Creighton Elementary School District, assistant superintendent for educational services in the Phoenix Union High School District and a principal, assistant principal and educator.
"They figured ... would it make a difference if someone who has been in the classroom teaching and as a school principal and as an assistant superintendent and superintendent, what would that mean to help the 600,000 students in Maricopa County?"
Covey said he supports all types of education, bethey traditional or nontraditional such as home schooling, private or charter schools.
"My philosophy is wherever a student can do the best in, with parent support or guardian support, they can succeed," he said from Colorado in July, where he was visiting his alma mater.
When asked why he is running, Covey listed a few reasons.
First, he wants to help students achieve success. He wants to work with the state department of education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne to help schools meet the No Child Left Behind law. Second, he wants to offer support to teachers and administrators. Last, he wants to help schools be fiscally responsible.
According to state statute, the county school district superintendent's office is charged with helping smaller districts with budget and finance issues.
"The district puts a budget forth with the coordination of the county treasurer's office. We're accountable for the budget and making sure they're operating accordingly," he said.
Tim Tyree is the Yuma County superintendent of schools and president of the Arizona County School Superintendents Association.
"I remember a while back walking out of church and my pastor saying, 'What does the county sup do?'" Tyree said.
There are the statute duties, such as financial, that the offices take care of. But there's also the service side of it, Tyree said.
"That piece of it may vary very much from county to county. There are some things that I do that are prescribed by statutes but after that it's what you make of it," he said.
During Dowling's term, she started a school for homeless children in Maricopa County,
"In our county we run a small alternative school for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. We have some students who get into trouble from time to time ... we have a school where they essentially get another chance," Tyree said.