Thursday, November 15, 2018

Constitution Revision Commission member Donalds withdraws proposal to end superintendent elections in Florida

A proposal to ask voters to end Florida's practice of allowing school districts to elect their superintendents will not go to the state Constitution Revision Commission today, as had been anticipated.

Its sponsor, Collier County School Board member Erika Donalds, quietly withdrew the item from further consideration late Tuesday. It already had won support from two commission committees.

"I'm just kind of weighing out how many proposals have passed and what my higher priorities are, as far as what I want on the ballot," Donalds explained.

The commission has moved more than a dozen items to style and drafting for further consideration, including measures relating to greyhound dogs and civic literacy. Many members have raised concerns that the November ballot might grow too long and voters might not pay attention to any of these items as a result.

"So I thought it would be best to remove that one from consideration, so I can focus my efforts on my higher priorities," Donalds said.

Those include a proposal to limit school board members to two consecutive terms, an idea which has been popular in polls, and another to allow a state authorizer of charter schools.

The elimination of the superintendent proposal brought a sigh of relief to Joy Frank, lobbyist for the state superintendents association, which opposed the measure. Along with some local control advocates, the superintendents argued that communities that have elected district leaders are operating fine, and already had a legal way to conduct votes to change to an appointed superintendent if they wished.

In fact, many districts have held such referenda and defeated the idea.

Related coverage: Elected vs. appointed? Florida's superintendent selection process gets a closer look 

"I'm not going to get too excited until I know for sure," Frank said. "It's not over until it's over."

The commission continues to meet through April. But Donalds said she had no plan to revive her proposal.

The CRC meets in full session again today, beginning at 9 a.m. Donalds' term limits proposal is on the special order calendar, along with several other education-related items include two items that would allow tax dollars to go to private education, and one that would give academically successful school districts the same flexibilities as charter schools. Watch on The Florida Channel.

— With Tallahassee bureau reporter Emily L. Mahoney.

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