Board members Tim Bryant and Diane Kelley blocked a motion to place discussion of the issue on the agenda for the Okaloosa School Board's next meeting.

NICEVILLE — The budding effort to secure a spot on the March 2020 ballot to ask Okaloosa County voters whether they want to elect or appoint a school superintendent took a bit of a blow Monday at the School Board meeting.

Board members Tim Bryant and Diane Kelley blocked a motion to place discussion of the issue on the agenda for the board’s next meeting.

With School Board Chairman Lamar White absent, the no votes of Bryant and Kelley were enough to thwart member Linda Evanchyk’s motion to bring the matter before the board, although there is nothing to prevent Evanchyk from simply requesting that discussion of a referendum be placed on the next meeting agenda.

“Any board member can ask to get an item placed on the agenda,” Evanchyk said Tuesday. “I kind of messed up there trying to make a motion for discussion.”

Evanchyk, who has been on the board since January, said she realized her procedural error after the meeting and will probably take the steps necessary to have the referendum discussed at the School Board’s next meeting. She said she was at a loss, though, as to why someone didn’t correct her mistake.

“The superintendent (Marcus Chambers), acting chairman (Bryant) or (board attorney) Mr. McInnis didn’t say anything,” she said. “The board doesn’t have to vote on an agenda item.”

Although Monday’s vote should prove largely ceremonial, it did indicate that the board is divided on the referendum, which a group called Yes for Okaloosa Schools is pushing for.

“The bottom line seems to be that among the four members there Monday, the board is certainly split on the topic,” Evanchyk said. “The vote showed where two of us stand on each side of the issue.”

Evanchyk said she favors letting Okaloosa County voters decide whether they'd like to move from an elected to appointed school superintendent.

"I believe as representatives of the people, we need to get the referendum on the next ballot," she said.

Kelley said Tuesday that she does not oppose a referendum to decide whether Okaloosa's superintendent should be appointed. She opposes holding a referendum in March, which is the timeline favored by Yes for Okaloosa Schools.

"I am all for giving the voters a voice; we're elected to reflect the opinions of our constituents," Kelley said. "My personal preference, and that I believe of the majority of people in my district, is that we put a referendum out when the majority of voters are likely to turn out, and that is at the general election. I don't think the Democratic primary is the place to hold that referendum."

Bryant did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.

Dewey Destin, the fourth board member present Monday, seconded Evanchyk’s motion to place the appointed superintendent issue on a future agenda. Having heard often from supporters of the appointed superintendent initiative, including nine during Monday's meeting, Destin said he’d like to open the discussion to opponents as well.

“Only one side of the issue has shown up. I’d like to make this an agenda items so people on both sides of the issue can come forward and have a spirited discussion,” he said.