Education

Term limits for school board members likely to be on 2018 ballot

December 19, 2017

Rep. Jason Fischer has filed a bill (HJR 1031) that would place on the November 2018 ballot a constitutional amendment that to limit the terms of school board members.

As reported earlier, the state Constitution Revision Commission is considering a similar proposal.

Both proposals, which would need voter approval, would limit school board members to two four-year terms. Fischer’s plan is identical to one (SJR 194) that Sen. Greg Steube filed in August.

Escambia County School Board has two members who have served more than two terms – Gerald Boone (three terms) and Patty Hightower (four terms). Bill Slayton is serving his second term. Linda Moultrie resigned in August during the middle of her third term and has pre-filed to run again in 2018.

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  • CJ Lewis December 19, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Eight-year term limits seem like a great idea for all county, municipal, special district and school board members. As HJR 1031 is written, the proposed term limits for school board members are cumulative meaning that terms of office served before voter approval of the change and the effective date of the change would count. In 2009, the Pensacola Charter Review Commission tried to avoid a fight with the Pensacola City Council by concocting fake term limits that ignored all years served prior to 2010 or 2012. That is how in 2016 my District 1 Councilman P.C. Wu told me and two councilmembers that he plans to remain in office for 20 years through 2024 to “win” a Florida League of Cities’ 20-Year Service Award. Under the so-called term limits provisions in the Pensacola Charter, Councilman/Mayor Mike Wiggins could run again and serve another 12 years. Further, the Pensacola City Council’s term limits are crafted in a way that someone like District 3 Councilman Andy Terhaar, whose name has never once appeared on a ballot, can serve three four-year terms of office, sit it out for one term and then do it again for another three four-year terms of office, etc. That problem is one ripe for a charter amendment to close the loophole. State officials are subject to eight-year term limits so it is hard to imagine that members of the Florida Legislature would have a problem proposing legislation or constitutional amendments to put county, municipal, special district and school board members under the same eight-year limitation. Another change would be to make all elections non-partisan other than those held at the state level. It makes zero sense to have partisan elections for county commissioners, a Sheriff, etc. Lastly, the Florida Legislature should expand the Municipal Home Rule Powers Act to describe what is meant by the term “non-partisan elections.” In 2009, Pensacola City voters approved a City Charter that provided for non-partisan elections. However, at least four candidates that I know of ran openly partisan campaigns to include receiving direct support from local political parties. City Clerk Ericka Burnett, who lives outside of city limits, reportedly advised a “Democratic” candidate in 2016 that she could receive whatever partisan political support she wanted so long as a “D” was not after her name on a ballot. That was seemingly Burnett’s same position in 2012 with respect to the three candidates receiving direct support from the local Republican Party. I spoke with Republican officials who had the candidates signs in and in front of their office, had their campaign materials on the table inside and told me they were making calls on behalf of one of the candidates. Everyone on the City Council was told about the 2012 incident but none of them cared all afraid to respond to me.

    • L. Laird December 19, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      CJ/ you left out the ECUA board; few of them have been on the board for yrs. I am sure the folks in Northhill would love to change a few members of the ECUA Board….