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Florida House targets school board salaries

Opponents argue compensation broadens access to wider range of candidates

A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at eliminating salaries for county school board members was approved by a House panel Thursday, with opponents warning it could make boards less diverse.

A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at eliminating salaries for county school board members was approved by a House panel Thursday, with opponents warning it could make boards less diverse.

The measure (HJR 1461), which was approved in a 10-7 vote by the House Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee, would place a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot.

Sponsor Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, told the panel that nixing pay for school boards would “take the politics out of our school boards.”

But Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville, and other opponents argued that diversity on the boards would be threatened by making the positions unpaid.

“This will lead to an elitist system. It is going to drive out folks who have the most at stake in the educational system,” Nixon said.

Florida school board members are paid an average of $35,995 annually and receive roughly $10,800 in benefits, according to a House staff analysis. Legislators are paid about $30,000 a year.

According to Florida Law, board members are paid based on a formula rooted in the county’s population size, but in 2018, the formula was amended to prevent board members from receiving more than the starting salary for that district’s teachers.

According to a survey National School Boards Association, about 61% of school districts don’t pay their board members, 28% were paid less than $5,000 a year, and 7% got less than $10,000 a year.

The House proposal needs approval from the Education and Employment Committee before it could go before the full House. The Senate does not have a similar proposal.


About the Authors:

McLean is a reporter with WJXT, covering education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.