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CRC Takes Up Ed Proposals, Sets Aside Unpaid School Board Plan

A proposal prohibiting local school board members from being paid looks unlikely to go before Florida voters. But term limits for those members and making superintendents appointed instead of elected are moving ahead.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s education committee voted down a plan to make school board membership voluntary instead of paid, before reversing course and temporarily postponing it. Commissioner Nicole Washington says the idea would discourage some people from running.

“When I speak to my peers a lot of the detractors say they can’t afford to spend this amount of time doing the things they’re really passionate about and would really like to be involved in because of the fact its unpaid…”

The idea is being pitched by CRC member Erika Donalds, who is also carrying a proposal make the job of district superintendent appointed, instead of elected. Her reasoning?

“Florida is one of three states in the United States that still has elected superintendents along with Alabama and Mississippi, however Mississippi passed legislation to phase out…by 2019."

But the idea makes fellow Commissioner Belinda Kaiser uncomfortable.

“I for one would have a difficult time eliminating the will of the overall public to elect their superintendent," she said. Kaiser is concerned smaller districts would struggle to attract qualified applicants.

Still the education committee has decided to move forward with the measure. But that doesn’t mean Florida voters will see them just yet—all plans must still be vetted through other committee’s as well as the full commission before heading to the ballot. And before they become enshrined in the state’s constitution, 60 percent of voters must agree. But that doesn't mean the more the merrier, says the small county coalition’s Chris Doolan.

“The more proposals on the ballot, the higher the risk of people getting ballot fatigue.” 

Which means the more amendments voters see, the more likely they are to say no.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.
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