School board members may soon face term limits

With supporters touting benefits such as dislodging incumbents, the Florida House is moving forward with a proposal that could lead to term limits for school board members across the state.

The House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee on Wednesday approved a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 229) that would ask voters in 2020 whether they want to impose eight-year term limits on school board members, similar to term limits in place for the Legislature.

While the annual legislative session will not start until March 5, the proposal has easily cleared two House subcommittees. Sponsor Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, said term limits could bring “new voices” onto school boards.

“Term limits have made our Legislature more diverse, it’s made it younger, it’s actually helped downplay the role of money in politics,” Sabatini told the House panel. “Studies have shown that term limits have broad benefits. And I think at the heart of it all is also a notion of fairness that they create. It makes it, I think, a lot more fair for people who want to … get into public service. It takes away some of the illegitimate power of an incumbent — simply by existing they achieve so much power. And what term limits does is it allows new people to run for office.”