In 2022, lawmakers approved 12-year term limits for local school board members in Florida, but a year later, the House and Senate chambers decided to impose 8-year term limits. But what’s the rush?
“Why are we back here so fast on this to change it,” state Sen. Jason Pizzo asked in the Florida Senate on Monday. He represents parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“We’re back here within one session to further reduce the term limits on an entity that we just did last year,” Pizzo, a Democrat, added. “Why aren’t we doing other seats, why aren’t we doing county commission, why aren’t we doing; why are we back here again further narrowing and tailoring the number of years for this position?”
Republican Senate sponsor Blaise Ingoglia, representing Citrus, Hernando, and Sumter counties plus part of Pasco County, didn’t elaborate much, though he said that “this was the preferred landing spot” for 8-year term limits for local school board members. Ingoglia also said on Monday that he’d pursue the county commission term limits in the future.
However, in past months, the Florida Phoenix has written that:
“Shortening the term limits of school boards would allow current school board members to be cycled out sooner to make way for new, potentially more politically conservative candidates …
“In 2022, the Legislature first imposed the 12-year term limit, even though most districts in Florida didn’t place term limits on their school board members at all, raising questions about overstepping local authority or Constitutional rules.
“In addition, the atmosphere surrounding local school board elections has become increasingly politicized over the past couple of years. In summer 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis endorsed over two dozen local school board elections, a previously unprecedented move.”
In early January, DeSantis began discussing a change in term limits for school board members, from 12 down to 8, which is in line with term limits for state lawmakers.
Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat who represents part of Orange County, tweeted at the time:
“Governor now wants 8-year term limits for school board members and partisan elections to basically get rid of current members over time and make public education more partisan. This goes far deeper than just culture wars — this is an educational power grab.”
During the current legislative session, lawmakers did what DeSantis wanted: The House approved the bill (HB 477) on the 8-year term limits in March, and the Senate approved the measure on Monday in a 30-7 vote.
Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.
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