School board term limits push forward in Florida House

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Amendment 8 was the only constitutional amendment kicked off the 2018 ballot. It would have put term limits on school board members, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled another proposal it was bundled with misled voters.

Now lawmakers want to see if the issue can stand on its own in the 2020 election.

The amendment would limit school board members to eight consecutive years in office. It got its first thumbs up from a House Committee Wednesday.

Sponsor Representative Anthony Sabatini says school board term limits are overwhelmingly supported by Floridians.

“Eighty-two percent [of people] across the board want the term limits, and so we've seen it with a lot of the constitutional amendments over the past few years, particularly marijuana, some of these other topics," said Sabatini. "It's important that we listen to what the people want.”

In 2018, 90 percent of school board incumbents won re-election, with many running unopposed.

Currently in Florida, only counties that have a charter system are able to set term limits for school board members. Duval County is the only that has chosen to adopt them.

Chris Doolin, with the Small School District Council Consortium, says instead of forcing term limits statewide, the constitutional amendment should instead give local governments the authority to decide for themselves.

“So that what happens in Dade or Broward [counties] isn't what's mandated for Dixie or Leavy or Lafayette or anywhere else in the state," said Doolin.

Others suggested eight years was too short a term, saying they’d support a 12-year limit.

“Peer-reviewed research also shows that people reach their peak performance in any position at about ten years," said Representative Jennifer Webb.

A similar constitutional amendment proposed in the Legislature last year would have set a 12-year limit, but it failed.