CRC proposals impacting schools boards move forward

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
November 27, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Three proposals moving through the Constitutional Revision Commission are looking to make major changes to how local school districts are governed.

The first would set term limits for local school board members. At this time, board members serve as long as they are elected and re-elected.

Commissioner Erika Donalds wants members capped at two four-year terms.

“I think term limits allow for people to remember the public they’re there to represent as opposed to becoming part of the system that they’re elected to,” said Donalds.

Florida School Boards Association Executive Director, Andrea Messina, says school board members have a higher turn over rate than other elected positions with term limits; about 41% since 2010.

“I’m not sure what problem this proposal is trying to solve,” said Messina.

A second proposal by Donalds would take away school board salaries. On average, the positions pay about $34,000 a year, with an additional $19,500 in benefits.

The state would save $19.3 million annually by making the positions unpaid.

School boards say the pay allows residents from all socioeconomic backgrounds to run for office.

“If we cut back the salary on school boards it could jeopardize the ethnic, cultural and economic diversity of the school boards that we now enjoy,” said Messina.

The proposal to make district superintendents appointed instead of elected is supported by the fact that 26 Florida counties already appoint their superintendents. Florida is one of only five states that elects superintendents.

Only the proposals for term limits and appointed superintendents passed the CRC Education committee. The proposal to make school board member positions unpaid was temporarily postponed after the committee voted it down.

If approved by the full CRC, the proposals would appear on the 2018 ballot. The amendments would each have to receive 60% of the vote to become part of the state constitution.

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