Another proposal for term limits for school boards

A proposal to impose term limits on Florida school board members will be taken up Monday as the Florida Constitution Revision Commission begins to evaluate 103 measures aimed at changing the state Constitution.

The term-limit measure (Proposal 43) is sponsored by Commissioner Erika Donalds, a Collier County School Board member. The amendment, if placed on the 2018 ballot and adopted by 60 percent of statewide voters, would limit school board members to no more than eight years in office, or two consecutive four-year terms.

Donalds’ proposal mirrors a bill state Sen. Greg Steube filed in August in advance of the 2018 legislative session, which begins in January. If approved by lawmakers, his proposed constitutional amendment would go on the November 2018 ballot and require at least 60 percent to become law.

Members of the Monroe County School Board are split on term limits. Andy Griffiths, in office since 1992, is opposed. John Dick, first elected in 2006, said he doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other. Mindy Conn, elected in 2016, said having long-term knowledge of the district could be impeded my term limits.

Donalds’ proposal is one of three school-related measures she sponsored at the Constitution Revision Commission that will be reviewed by the commission's Education Committee, as the overall 37-member commission begins four days of committee meetings next week on a host of proposals. Donalds also wants to eliminate salaries for school board members in another proposal (P32).

Another Donalds measure (P33) would require the appointment of school superintendents, which is now done by 26 of the 67 school districts, including Monroe County’s; the majority of superintendents are still elected by voters.

Monroe School District Superintendent Mark Porter was hired by the board in 2012, becoming the first schools chief in the Florida Keys not chosen by the voters in the wake of the Monique Acevedo embezzlement scandal that caused her then-husband, then Keys superintendent Randy, to be removed from office by then-Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009.

The Constitution Revision Commission committee meetings are only a first step in advancing the potential constitutional changes. To end up on the 2018 general ballot, 22 of the 37 members of the commission would eventually have to vote for each proposal.

The Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years, has a May 10 deadline for its proposals.

Keynoter staff contributed to this report.