- A proposed constitutional amendment filed on Tuesday would allow school board candidates the option to appear on a ballot with their political party affiliation plainly labeled
- Florida State Representative Spencer Roach filed the measure, but it needs to first gain approval from the Legislature, then voters would have the ultimate say
- If passed, voters would get to decide the proposal’s fate in 2024, and if passed, would take effect in 2026
- Opponents say the measure will make school board decisions too political
- Supporters say that school boards are already too political and voters should be able to know which party a candidate belongs to
A new proposed constitutional amendment filed by Republican State Representative Spencer Roach on Tuesday would make school board elections in the state of Florida partisan – that is, if lawmakers first approve it to go on the ballot, and if voters approve it by a 60 percent margin. 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.
Roach, who represents House District 76 in Fort Myers, unsuccessfully filed a similar measure during the 2022 session. Under current law, school-board races are required to be nonpartisan contests. If approved by lawmakers, Roach’s proposal would go before voters in 2024.
Currently, school board elections in Florida are non-partisan, which simply means that no political party affiliation appears next to their name on the ballot. Non-partisan races were intended to reduce partisanship in certain kinds of campaigns. In school board races, it was hoped that non-partisan campaigns would ensure that decisions made by school boards were based on what is best for students and the education system, rather than on purely political considerations.
But with more and more examples of political ideology creeping into school curriculum, school board races have gained prominence and have become more political. Governor Ron DeSantis this cycle endorsed 30 school board candidates this cycle, 25 of which eventually won their elections.
Proponents of the bill 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 of the bill, however, argue that making school board elections partisan would politicize education and could lead to more divisive and acrimonious campaigns. They also argue that it could lead to more partisan decision-making on school boards, which could be detrimental to the education of students.