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INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb, or his successor elected in 2020, will appoint the next leader of the Indiana Department of Education, instead of Hoosier voters deciding who should be the state's schools chief.

The Republican governor has signed into law House Enrolled Act 1005 making 2021 the start date for an appointed secretary of education to lead the department.

Previously, the $6 billion, 235-employee state agency that oversees education for kindergarten through 12th grade students was to be led until 2025 by an elected state superintendent of public instruction.

But when Republican Jennifer McCormick, the current state superintendent, announced last year that she would not seek re-election in 2020, the Republican-controlled Legislature decided the best course was to give the governor elected next year his or her choice of DOE leader.

"For state education policy to be consistent and to have a unified approach, it's important for the governor and the education chief to be in sync — regardless of which party is in office," said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, sponsor of the law.

"Accelerating the start date for the appointment of the secretary of education is a commonsense move given the current superintendent's decision to not pursue another term."

Hoosiers have elected the state superintendent of public instruction since 1852.

Making it an appointed post will leave just six statewide elected officeholders — governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor and attorney general.

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