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Local Control at Issue in Proposed School Board Term Limit Amendment

February 20th, 2019 by Mike Vasilinda

A proposal to put term limits on local school boards is moving forward in the state Capitol, but not without controversy and concern.

Momentum is building to give local residents a say on whether they want term limits in their individual counties.

State lawmakers have been limited to 8 years in office since term limits took effect after the 1992 election.

Now some say what’s good enough for them, is good for school board members as well.

“I’m not even sure Florida’s beautiful beaches wold poll as high as term limits do,” said House Sponsor Rep. Anthony Sabatini.

A new poll released in the committee shows term limits widely popular with the general public, with 70 plus percent approval even in rural counties.

Even with those numbers, a rift started developing in the committee.

“Shouldn’t local citizens should decide for themselves, at that county by county level if they
Want to establish localized place based term limits,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani.

One by one, a half dozen members said they wanted to let local communities decide if their school boards members should face 8 year limits.

“I don’t believe voters in one part of the state should be able to change the basic structure of local government in another part of the state,” said Rich Templin with the Florida AFLCIO.

The legislation cleared its second committee with no changes, at least for the time being.

The first year term limits kicked in, there were 63 new members elected to the Florida House.

That’s more than half the membership.

Senate President Bill Galvano was first elected after term limits kicked in.

He says they are a mixed bag for lawmakers.

“I don’t believe that because of term limits, our system here in Tallahassee is by any means broken,” said Galvano.

If term limits eventually apply to school boards, either statewide or county by county, they would be the only local officials with such a limit.

While statewide term limits for school board members moved forward, a big fight over the county by county vote is expected at its next committee meeting.

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