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School board term limits move in Florida Senate, with some hesitation

A few lawmakers say they have concerns about the proposal.
Published Apr. 10, 2019

A measure that would let Florida voters decide whether to impose eight-year term limits on school board members advanced through its second state Senate committee on Wednesday.

During debate in the Education Committee, though, a handful of senators said they weren’t yet sold on the bill (SJR 274).

And because a three-fifths vote is needed for adoption of resolutions proposing constitutional amendments, as this would be, the individual questions by members could provide critical. So far, just one Democrat -- Sen. Daryl Rouson -- has signed on as a cosponsor, meaning if all 23 Republicans back the item, it would squeak by the 40-member chamber.

But at least two Republicans indicated they had reservations, and asked sponsor Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, to work with them as the bill moves ahead to the Rules Committee and perhaps to the floor.

“I do have concerns, and the more I talk to people, the more concerns I have,” said Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.

He did not spell out his issues, but said without changes, he might not support the idea any further.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Longwood, said he shared the views raised by some opponents, who suggested that the proposal would take away local control over who serves on the county school boards. He also said he thought a 12-year limit would be more palatable than an eight-year one.

“That’s a reasonable number,” Simmons suggested.

Baxley said he didn’t necessarily disagree. But he offered that the “eight is enough” movement appeared fairly clear in pushing for two four-year terms.

He added that no one is asking dedicated community servants to stop serving. They just should take a break, Baxley said, give up the power of incumbency and, if they desire, try to come back again.

“The point is letting go,” Baxley said, noting he took a three-year break between his terms in the state House and Senate.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, meanwhile contended that the debate missed the point.

“'We can’t get them out’ means the minority can’t get out who a majority wants to keep in office,” Montford said. “We talk about choice. What’s wrong with giving voters a choice?”

The bill narrowly survived the committee, by a 5-3 vote. Its companion in the House has seen stronger bipartisan support, and is next headed to the floor.


  1. More than 100 people turned out Jan. 15, 2019, to give the Pasco County School Board their thoughts on the district's policy and procedures for transgender student rights. [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  2. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  3. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ  |  Times]
  4. Teacher Dequita Parker guides youngsters to lunch from the playground Sept. 20 at the PromiseLand Early Childhood Education Center in Tampa.
  5. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  6. Sen. Audrey Gibson, leader of the Florida Senate Democrats, introduces a bill in January to refocus the $900 million proposed for teacher pay into salaries for all public school employees. It's just one of many ideas still floating around Tallahassee relating to educator raises. [The Florida Channel]
  7. A small group of students were rushed inside a bus at dismissal at AMIKids on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 in Pinellas Park.  [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  8. School employees Jarvis Delon West, left, and Dontae Antonio Thomas, right, were both arrested in connection with the assault and injury of a 12-year-old boy who attended AMIkids in Pinellas Park. The state shut the school down. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  9. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  10. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus. [MIKE STOCKER  |  AP]
  11. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  12. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms. [The Florida Channel]