Monday, July 16, 2018

Term limit proposal gets Florida school board members talking

House Bill 7069 was all the talk when the Florida School Boards Association held its conference in Tampa this past summer.

At this week's conference, the controversial bill remained a discussion subject. But the buzz really was about the Constitution Revision Commission proposals to limit board members to two consecutive terms, and to eliminate their pay.

Several said Thursday that they did not deny boards could benefit from fresh views.

"I don't have any problems with term limits," said Pasco County board member Steve Luikart, who is ending his second term. "I think there's a reason for them."

But Luikart and others worried that the mandatory removal of board members for no other reason but their length of service could have negative side effects, such as the loss of valuable historical perspective.

"Term limits create an impediment to a culture of high performance, in my opinion," said Lee County board chairwoman Cathleen Morgan, currently in her fifth year. "I believe turnover is good. I'm not sure forced turnover is necessarily healthy."

Leon County board member Maggie Lewis-Butler, in her 20th year of service, agreed. If voters see that a board member says current with education issues and remains responsible to the public, she said, there's no reason to arbitrarily remove that person.

"I'm still excited about doing a good job for the people," said Lewis-Butler, a retired teacher.

Board members from smaller, rural counties raised similar concerns as those mentioned by several revision commission members: An already small pool of candidates would shrink.

"In Hamilton County, nobody likes to volunteer their time," said board member Saul Speights, elected in 2016. "To find qualified people to do it, that's going to be the hard part."

Madison County board member Reginald Daniels, also newly elected a year ago, said he worried that particularly in combination, term limits and the elimination of pay would hurt in his community.

"I think it would eliminate the diversity" of candidates, Daniels said.

FSBA leaders have tried to make clear that, despite what some might believe, school board races are regularly contested and new members are frequently elected.

But they, too, stressed the need for institutional memory. Districts make long-range plans, but term limits would almost ensure that board members would not be around to see them through, said Alachua County board member April M. Griffin, FSBA president.

"You couldn't have a vision past four years," Griffin said. "If they want to know how their proposals affect school board members, we're ready to talk to them."

Comments
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 8, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 8, 2018

Another week, another lawsuit. This time, it’s the League of Women Voters challenge to Amendment 8, a measure headed to the November ballot unless a judge stops it. The group contends the proposal is misleading because it aims to change charter...
Published: 07/14/18
Ethics complaint against Hillsborough School Board member Lynn Gray

Ethics complaint against Hillsborough School Board member Lynn Gray

A disability rights advocate in Tampa has filed a state ethics complaint against Hillsborough County School Board member Lynn Gray, based on reports that appeared in recent months in the La Gaceta newspaper.Karen Clay has asked the state agency to in...
Published: 07/13/18
Pasco school district looks to strengthen student address verification rules

Pasco school district looks to strengthen student address verification rules

Pasco County parents have demanded their school district amplify its efforts to make sure students are not lying about their addresses for more than two years. They've done so in hopes that drive might alleviate the need to change attendance zon...
Published: 07/13/18
Gradebook podcast: Why the Hernando School Board fired its superintendent

Gradebook podcast: Why the Hernando School Board fired its superintendent

Florida's Hernando County school district is proving that not only the biggest systems suffer from politics and infighting.After years of internal disputes, and growing discontent within the general public, the board recently fired superintendent Lor...
Published: 07/13/18
Florida education news: Amendment lawsuit, charter appeals, safety and more

Florida education news: Amendment lawsuit, charter appeals, safety and more

AMENDMENT 8: Calling the title and summary "misleading," the Florida League of Women Voters asks the Leon County Court to remove Amendment 8 from the November ballot. The measure includes three items — civics education, school board t...
Published: 07/13/18
Pinellas School Board candidates talk inequity, retaliation and more at wide-ranging forum

Pinellas School Board candidates talk inequity, retaliation and more at wide-ranging forum

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas School Board candidates fielded questions about school security, educational inequity and retaliation in a wide-ranging Thursday evening forum at Pinellas Technical College.A dozen candidates, spread across four races,...
Published: 07/12/18
Pasco teacher contract talks continue focus on evaluations

Pasco teacher contract talks continue focus on evaluations

With some key financial data still unavailable, Pasco County teacher contract negotiators kept their attention turned to improving annual performance evaluations as they met Thursday afternoon.Representatives from both sides continued their focu...
Published: 07/12/18
Lawsuit challenges education amendment on Florida ballot

Lawsuit challenges education amendment on Florida ballot

A constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would allow charter school organizers to bypass local school boards to get approval is "intentionally misleading" because it doesn't directly explain to voters that the amendment is designed to c...
Published: 07/12/18
Approve those charter schools, Florida review panel says

Approve those charter schools, Florida review panel says

The Palm Beach County School Board lost its court battle in 2017 challenging the state's authority to overturn its denial of a charter school application.Now the board is poised to see its rejection of two charters overturned.Applicants to open ...
Published: 07/12/18
Florida education news: Diversity, demands, rivalries and more

Florida education news: Diversity, demands, rivalries and more

SEEKING DIVERSITY: Two Pasco County African-American moms are asking the school district to better train faculty and staff on how to handle cultural differences among students.FIGHTING BACK: Recently fired former Hernando County superintend...
Published: 07/12/18