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  1. Gradebook

Vote no on amendments 5 and 8, Hillsborough School Board urges

Board members say the items do not belong in the Florida constitution.
The Hillsborough County School Board chimed in against two proposed constitutional amendments — 5 and 8 — at a special meeting Aug. 24. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
The Hillsborough County School Board chimed in against two proposed constitutional amendments — 5 and 8 — at a special meeting Aug. 24. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]

The issues became but a sideshow to the main event of a sales tax referendum on Friday.

But proposed amendments to the state constitution 5 and 8 won little love from the Hillsborough County School Board, which adopted resolutions urging voters to oppose both.

Amendment 5 would require a legislative supermajority to increase state taxes or fees. Amendment 8 would set school board term limits, require civics education in public schools, and allow for a state authorizer of charter and other schools outside control of school boards.

A Leon County judge has ordered Amendment 8 off the ballot, deeming its wording to be misleading and confusing. That ruling is on appeal with the state Supreme Court.

Board members said they wanted to take no chances in having anyone not know their position.

"Taken individually, these things might have gone a different way for this member and the public," board member Cindy Stuart said, referring to Amendment 8.

"The piece that is really troubling to be is authorizing another entity outside of local control to be in control of local schools," she said. "These are things that should be decided locally."

Board vice chair Tamara Shamburger said voters can impose term limits by voting against incumbents. Bundling that idea with school authorization is "trickery at its best," she added, saying it should raise the red flag for all voters.

Only board member Melissa Snively opposed the resolution, saying she supported Amendment 8.

"I don't believe the constitution is the best place for these," she said, adding quickly, "I do support the initiative."

Snively also voted against the resolution opposing Amendment 5, explaining her views against higher taxes.

Others said they worried that placing such a requirement in the constitution would create a high bar that likely never would go away. Board member April Griffin noted that no one proposed requiring a supermajority for cutting taxes, and yet the Legislature does that all the time without considering the impact on local governments.

"They are pushing the responsibility from themselves to local government," Griffin said.

She noted further that, as the Legislature strives to distance itself from taxation, on the other hand Amendment 8 aims to strip power from school boards. She said she couldn't abide either.

Stuart said she supported the resolutions, because the amendments seek to have voters do what lawmakers should be doing.

"My biggest issue with this is, these are not constitutional issues," Stuart said.

The board joined a growing number of counties across Florida in opposing these amendments.

Read its resolutions on Amendment 5 and Amendment 8 for more details on their stances.