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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Two bills take aim at Florida school board operations

School board members could face term limits under a bill recently filed in the Florida Senate.

Octavio Jones (2016)

School board members could face term limits under a bill recently filed in the Florida Senate.

22

August

Two lawmakers have filed bills that could alter the way Florida's school boards operate in the future.

One could potentially expand their powers. The other would likely decrease them.

The first measure [SB 192] would codify in law that two or more members of a school board or other elected body may meet privately, and without any public notice, if no official acts or public business are to occur. It also would allow multiple members of the same board to participate in "fact-finding exercises or excursions," or to meet with lawmakers, to learn about public business, again as long as no formal action takes place or is contemplated.

Those excursions would require advance notification.

The bill's sponsor is Sen. Dennis Baxley, the Ocala Republican who put forth legislation in the spring that would allow two members of an elected body to meet privately to discuss public business. The idea was overwhelmingly panned, and failed in the House, although a majority supported it. 

This latest proposal does not go as far. But there's the question of whether it opens the door to future such moves.

The second measure [SJR 194] would set term limits on elected school board members. Currently, board members can serve until ousted. 

This proposal, which would require voter approval, would bar anyone from serving more than two four-year terms. Lawmakers and the governor currently face term limits, as do appointed State Board of Education members.

Sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, the bill offers some insight into the possible direction that the Constitution Review Commission might head as it considers amendments. The commission is accepting ideas for another month, and of the 442 already submitted, dozens involve education issues that range from funding to terms of office. The panel is expected to present at least a handful of recommendations on education.

Neither bill has a House companion yet, as committee weeks approach. But already some education-related lobbyists have said they're girding up for "another fun year" in the Florida Legislature.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 4:01pm]

    

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