Every member of the Broward School Board is a woman. Credit: Broward County Public Schools website.
The Florida Legislature is imposing 12-year term limits for school board members in 67 school districts, a new standard for locally elected board members who currently don’t have term limits.
The term-limit legislation, HB 1467, is on its way to the governor’s desk.
At issue is whether the bill may overstep local authority or Constitutional rules. Local boards, under the Florida Constitution, have the authority to operate public schools.
The House and Senate had different ideas as to how long those term limits should be.
The House approved 8-year term limits a few weeks back, but the Senate changed the bill Wednesday to allow a 12-year term limit. On Thursday, the House agreed with the Senate.
“Sometimes you have to take the field goal instead of going for the touchdown.” State Rep. Sam Garrison, who sponsored the bill in the House, said. “I’ll take it.”
Garrison previously wanted to remove the salaries of school board members, but backed down after a backlash and potential sexism. Instead, he opted for term limits.
“Term limits are good for Florida, they’re good for this body, and they’re good for every level of government,” Garrison said Thursday. He is a Republican who represents part of Clay County in Northeast Florida.
Rep. Michele Rayner, a Democrat from the Tampa Bay area, was opposed to placing term limits on school board members, saying that some long-term goals of a school board “cannot happen in 8 to 12 years” and that constituents can vote out ineffective members.
“We have to understand that school board officials are elected offices, so if they’re not doing their jobs we have a mechanism to get them out,” Rayner said.
The 12-year term limits were approved by the House 79-49, with term limits and another provision in the bill expanding parental access to evaluating books at school libraries.
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