TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State lawmakers on Thursday considered a proposal that could eliminate salaries for county school board members.
The House Education & Employment Committee passed a bill (HB 1467), filed by Rep. Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, that would repeal parts of state law that include school board salaries. It was approved mainly on party lines.
Salaries are based on a formula that includes county populations.
They range this year from $26,965 in Liberty County to $47,189 in Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties, according to a House staff analysis.
“The purpose of this bill is to try to make the education of our children better,” Garrison said. “The structure, the way we do these sorts of things to where we are having parents incentivized to be in these positions, engaged in their schools. We want parental involvement in schools. Period.”
Marie-Claire Leman is a mother of three who worries average people won’t serve.
“It’s practically a guarantee that average people that are neither wealthy or politicians will be able to run and serve,” said Leman, who also has an organization, Fund Education Now.
Democrats, in general, voted no.
“These are folks that I want to take their jobs seriously. They are in charge of our kids’ safety” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.
Garrison’s bill also would make a series of changes related to instructional materials and library books in public schools.
In addition, there are efforts to impose term limits, and another bill would require partisan labels.
State Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, is behind term limits. He believes the coronavirus pandemic has opened eyes.
“It opened up the door for parents to know a lot more about what was going on in education and not going on in the education of their children,” Baxley said.
And state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, says it is dishonest for candidates to run without a party label.
“Shine a light on where people are on the issues and the easiest way is to have people run with partisan designation,” said Gruters, who is also the chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
And what we are being told is that meetings on all three bills are being held to sort out which, if any, of the concepts can find enough traction to pass.
The Florida School Boards Association did not speak at Thursday’s hearing, but it did say salaries are important for people who will be managing million-dollar and billion-dollar budgets.