A proposed amendment that would place term limits on local school boards moved one step closer to being placed on the November ballot where voters would decide whether to make the proposal part of the state’s constitution.
“Term limits have overwhelming support with the public. Unfortunately, very little support with elected politicians who we need to put them in place,” said Erika Donalds, a member of the CRC and a school board member from Collier County. “Many of these politicians wouldn’t even be in office if it weren’t for term limits that ousted their predecessors.”
Donalds proposal would limit school board members to eight consecutive terms in office. The term limits would be effective on members elected to school boards after the November 2018 election.
“Why just school boards?” asked Commissioner Sherry Plymale, a former chief of staff for the Florida Department of Education. “If we’re going to have one policy-making board [that term limits apply to] at the local level, why not county commissioners, too? I don’t think it’s fair and right to just pick one policy-making body.”
Donalds said she would welcome amendments by any member of the commission who would wish to extend term limits to other local governing bodies.
Former state legislator and CRC member Chris Smith said term limits already exist in the form of elections. He says voters hold the power to term limit a school board member every election.
“Term limits are every two years. Term limits are every four years,” said Commissioner Chris Smith. “We have term limits. People go vote. They don’t want them, they throw them out. It’s in essence disenfranchising voters.”
CRC member Jeanette Nunez, a state representative who is term limited at the end of the year, says term limits help to bring new faces and new ideas to the process.
“I can tell you I’m fully ready to go back home,” Nunez said. “I’m ready to take a break and I’m looking forward to the new crop of individuals who are going to walk through those doors in November and bring fresh ideas and new perspective. I think it’s a very important thing for our political process.”
The CRC, which meets every 20 years to consider revisions to the Florida Constitution, is meeting this week in Tallahassee to decide which of the remaining proposals will be sent to the commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, which will have the task of refining the wording of the proposals and writing ballot titles for each amendment.
The full commission will then return to Tallahassee on April 16 to make its final decision on the proposals. Members will have until May 4 to finish their work.
In order for a proposed amendment to earn a spot on the November ballot, it must receive 22 votes from the commission’s 37 members. To win passage in November, a proposal would need 60 percent support from voters.