Panel Backs School Board Term Limits

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Tallahassee, FL - The Florida House could consider a proposed constitutional amendment that would impose eight-year term limits on county school board members.

The House Education & Employment Committee voted 13-7 to approve the proposal (HJR 1461), positioning it to go to the full House. Under the measure, a person “may not appear on the ballot for re-election to the office of school board member if, by the end of his or her current term of office, the person will have served, or but for resignation would have served, in that office for eight consecutive years.”

The proposal aims to put the issue before voters in 2022. Lawmakers have considered similar proposals in recent years but have not passed them. Sponsor Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, used the Legislature as an example of why he said “having an end date on your service” is beneficial.

“It’s part of the reason why Tallahassee, for all the pressures we have, hasn't turned into Washington, D.C. Because we know we have a finite amount of time to get things done here, and we have to work with our colleague to make that happen,” Garrison said.

But Rep. Melony Bell, R- Fort Meade, said the choice to limit terms of board members should be made on the local level.

“We should allow each county to vote on what they decide that they want, the citizens of that county, not a statewide blanket that we are going to put on the whole state of Florida,” Bell said.

Garrison filed the measure initially as a proposed constitutional amendment to end salaries for school board members, generating a debate about whether such a change would threaten diversity on boards.

The House panel approved the measure Thursday after it was overhauled. A Senate version of the proposal has not been filed.

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