Andy Griffiths is in his seventh term on the Monroe County School Board, starting on the board in 1992 and winning a streak of consecutive reelections, with the latest term expiring in 2020.
“So when I finish up seven, it’ll be 28 years,” said Griffiths, 58.
And don’t talk to him about term limits, which Florida doesn’t impose on School Board members but a Republican senator from Sarasota wants to bring about via a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit members to two four-year terms.
“We already have term limits, they’re called elections,” said Griffiths, who added his longevity brings value to the board and Monroe County, of which he is an unofficial lobbyist of sorts, showing up in Tallahassee and various other public education meetings.
“I don’t charge for it and I pay my own travel,” Griffiths said, adding he doesn’t take a board salary.
Sen. Greg Steube filed the proposal last week in advance of the 2018 legislative session, which begins in January. If approved by lawmakers, the proposed constitutional amendment would go on the November 2018 ballot and require at least 60 percent to become law.
Steube didn’t return phone calls seeking comment on what prompted his proposal.
But board members were divided over the issue.
“I’m on the fence about term limits,” said Mindy Conn, the newest member elected last year. “Getting fresh ideas is wonderful. On the other hand, the knowledge that comes with time on the board helps as well.”
Conn said two four-year terms wouldn’t be enough and would rather see three or four terms allowed.
“My concern is that you lose the historical knowledge,” she said.
Chairman John Dick, who has been on the board since 2006, said, “I don’t know if they’re needed at this point,” but added he isn’t opposed to term limits.
“There’s not a lot of money involved in this, it’s not like somebody is doing it for a job,” Dick said. “Usually the terms are controlled by the electorate.”
Griffiths said the proposal feels like an anti-public education move.
To me, the worst thing to happen in Tallahassee in our lifetime is term limits,” Griffiths said.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen