School board term limits proposal moves closer to 2018 ballot

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, November 27, 2017, 8:33 PM EST

A proposal to impose term limits on county school board members cleared a panel of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission Monday, moving it closer to eventually appearing on the November 2018 ballot.

  • Board members would be limited to eight consecutive years in office
  • Critics fear "experience vacuum"
  • One 1 county in Florida has term-limited school board seats

Limiting board members to eight consecutive years in office would reduce the power that incumbency often plays in local races, supporters say, allowing for more competitive elections featuring reform-minded candidates.

"I can think of no better way to represent the will of the people than to give the citizens of Florida the opportunity to enact term limits for elected school board members," the measure's sponsor, CRC Commissioner Erika Donalds, told the commission's Education Committee before Monday's vote.

But far from serving to enhance local education policymaking, critics warn that forcing veteran school board members from office would create an experience vacuum, giving profit-driven vendors an upper hand at the expense of taxpayers and students.

"In Tallahassee, we have seen an explosion of the lobbyist class," AFL-CIO legislative affairs director Rich Templin told the committee. "We don't need that kind of effect at our local school boards."

Of Florida's 67 counties, only one - Duval - has voluntarily moved to make school board seats term-limited positions.

The committee also approved a measure to mandate that school district superintendents be chosen by school boards, not elected, as they currently are in most counties.

If the proposals advance beyond the committee process and are approved by the full commission, they would appear on next year's ballot. By law, they would have to receive at least 60 percent support to pass.