School board term limits

From the News Service of Florida: A House committee Thursday approved a proposal aimed at imposing eight-year term limits on school-board members across the state, positioning the issue to be considered by the full House.

The House Education Committee voted 14-3 to approve the proposal (HJR 229), sponsored by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, and Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay.

The proposal, if approved by the Legislature, would go on the 2020 ballot because imposing term limits would require a constitutional amendment. State lawmakers also face eight-year term limits, which Sabatini said draw bipartisan support.

“Term limits have actually made us, according to many academic studies, younger and more diverse,” Sabatini, a freshman House member, said. “There’s just a wider and a different spectrum of new folks coming into the system.”

But Rich Templin, a lobbyist for the Florida AFL-CIO, said lawmakers should not seek to impose term limits on all school-board members across the state. He said local voters should be allowed to decide whether to support term limits for their elected officials.

“This legislation doesn’t give people the freedom to decide whether or not they want term limits in their communities,” Templin said. “It imposes term limits on those communities that may not want them.”

A Senate version of the proposal (SJR 274), sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, has been approved by one committee.

Escambia County School Board has two members that have served 10 years or more: Patty Hightower (2004) and Bill Slayton (2008).