- The House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee has voted in approval of a Constitutional amendment that would establish partisan school board races, allowing candidates to run under a political party.
- Supporters of the proposal argue that it would increase transparency and accountability in school board elections, allowing voters to know where candidates stand on certain issues, while opponents believe that making school board elections partisan would politicize education and lead to more divisive and acrimonious campaigns.
- The proposal needs to be approved by lawmakers and voters in order to be enacted.
The House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee voted 13 to 5 along party lines on Tuesday in approval of a Constitutional amendment that would establish partisan school board races.
Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Spencer Roach filed joint resolutions in December that propose amendments to the State Constitution to alter the structure of local school board elections, offering the option for candidates to run under a political party. Presently, school board elections in Florida are non-partisan, meaning that no political party affiliation appears next to their name on the ballot.
“For me, this is not about advancing the causes of one political party over another, but about transparency,” Roach told the committee. “I believe we have an obligation to give voters as much information about a candidate as possible and let them make a decision.”
In school board races, the original, non-partisan structure was formulated in hopes that such campaigns would ensure that decisions made by school boards were student-focused and solely pertaining to the education system, rather than political considerations.
Under the proposal, candidates for school board positions would have the option to run as a member of a political party, and their party affiliation would appear on the ballot, starting in the 2026 election cycle.
For the proposal to be enacted, lawmakers would need to approve it to appear on ballots, followed by a 60 percent approval margin from voters.
Roach, who represents House District 76 in Fort Myers, unsuccessfully filed a similar measure during the 2022 Legislative Session.
Proponents of the amendment argue that it would increase accountability and transparency in school board elections, and would allow voters to make more informed decisions because they’ll know – at a glance – where the candidate stands on certain issues.
Opponents, however, argue that making school board elections partisan would politicize education and could lead to more divisive and acrimonious campaigns.
“I believe this bill is not about transparency at all. This bill is about making our school-board elections and our school boards more contentious, more like D.C,” said Rep. Angie Nixon.
Ideological school board elections? What could go wrong?