Sen. Joe Gruters bolsters partisan school board race efforts

by | Dec 20, 2022


  • Sen. Joe Gruters filed a joint resolution on Monday that aims to require school board races to be partisan 
  • 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, which would then subsequently require a 60 percent approval margin from voters
  • Currently, school board elections in Florida are non-partisan, meaning that no political party affiliation appears next to their name on the ballot

Sen. Joe Gruters filed a joint resolution on Monday that would propose amendments to the State Constitution to require members of a district school board to be elected in a partisan election. The filing comes just two weeks after Rep. Spencer Roach filed a similar motion in the House.

Currently, school board elections in Florida are non-partisan, meaning that no political party affiliation appears next to their name on the ballot.

In school board races, it was hoped that non-partisan 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.

Further detailed in the proposal, partisan primary elections may occur before the general election held on Nov. 3, 2026, for purposes of nominating political party candidates to that office for placement on the 2026 general election ballot.

For the proposal to be enacted, lawmakers would need to approve it to appear on ballots, which would then subsequently require a 60 percent approval margin from voters.

Roach, who represents House District 76 in Fort Myers, unsuccessfully filed a similar measure during the 2022 session. If approved by lawmakers, Roach’s proposal would go before voters in 2024.

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.

As educational policy took center stage through the past legislative year, the two gubernatorial general election candidates — Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Charlie Crist — turned to school board endorsements to offer snapshots of their policy ambitions.

The two candidates jockeyed themselves to represent opposite sides of the educational binary through a series of school board race endorsements.

DeSantis in July announced his full slate of 30 endorsements of local school board candidates who support the ‘DeSantis Education Agenda‘, giving those endorsed members a de facto party label.

Similarly, Crist publicly endorsed seven school board candidates across Florida in the lead-up to his ultimate defeat in the general election.

Outside of the gubernatorial race, Manny Diaz, Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, took to Twitter to unveil the party’s list of eighteen endorsements of local school board candidates.

The Capitolist attempted to reach Sen. Gruters for comment but did not receive an immediate response. 

0 Comments

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: