TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A handful of Florida school boards are suing the state over legislation that directs local tax revenue to charter schools.
Proposals from the Constitution Revision Commission seek to make school board service a volunteer activity and limit how long people can serve.
Specifically, three proposals moving through the 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.
Currently, board members serve as long as they keep getting 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,” Donalds said.
Florida School Boards Association Executive Director Andrea Messina said school board members have a higher turnover rate than other elected positions with term limits -- about 41 percent since 2010.
“I'm not sure what problem this proposal is trying to solve,” Messina said.
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.
Those with the school boards said 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,” Messina said.
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 also one of only five states that elects superintendents.
Only the proposals for term limits and appointed superintendents passed the CRC Education Committee.
If approved by the full CRC, the proposals would appear on the 2018 ballot. They each would have to receive 60 percent of the vote to become part of the state constitution.