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Amendment 8

School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools

Source: Constitution Revision Commission

Quick Summary: Mandates term limits of eight years for all Florida school boards; allows the state to create public schools, something only local school boards currently can do; and requires schools to teach “civic literacy.”

Full Summary: This question has three parts.

  1. One part would establish term limits for school board members in all 67 school districts across the state (a CRC analysis of this proposal is here). Florida has term limits on some offices, including governor, Cabinet officers and state legislators, and some charter counties have established term limits for county commissioners. However, Florida’s school board members, numbering more than 300, currently can serve an unlimited amount of time in office as long as they get re-elected. This part of the amendment calls for limiting school board terms to no more than two consecutive four-year terms. (For incumbent school board members, the eight-year term-limit clock would not start ticking until the measure is passed on Nov. 6, provided it passes. 
  2. Under the Florida Constitution, only local school boards can establish and oversee public schools, notably charter schools. The second part of this amendment, though consisting of just six new words in the Constitution, would open the door for the Legislature to establish some type of state-level entity to create charter schools or specialized schools that would not be answerable to local school authorities. The Legislature attempted to do this in 2006, creating the “Florida Schools of Excellence Commission,” but the law creating the commission was ruled unconstitutional by a court. This proposal would alter the Constitution by adding the following words (shown in bold): “The school board shall operate, control, and supervise all free public schools established by the district school board within the school district…” So now, rather than controlling “all free public schools” inside a district, school boards will control only those it establishes, creating the opportunity for the state to open public schools through some means established by the Legislature. 
  3. The third part of this amendment directs the Legislature to mandate teaching “civic literacy” in public schools. Florida already has a law requiring middle schools to teach a semester-long civics class, covering such topics as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. This amendment would enshrine civics education in the Florida Constitution.

A YES vote on Amendment 8 would:

  • Create constitutional term limits for all Florida school board members, who could serve no more than two consecutive four-year terms.
  • Allow the Legislature to set up a state-run system for establishing and operating public schools, something only local school boards, elected by local communities, currently can do.
  • Create a constitutional requirement for civics education in public schools, something state law already requires in middle schools.

Supporters:

U.S. Term Limits

A NO vote on Amendment 8 would:

  • Reject term limits for school board members and allow voters to return board members to office as long as they get re-elected.
  • Keep local school boards as the sole authority for approving, operating and supervising public schools.
  • Reject a constitutional mandate for civics education, which would not affect the current state law that requires middle schools to teach students about the U.S. Constitution and other governing documents and institutions.

Opponents:

Florida School Boards Association; League of Women Voters of Florida; Progress; Florida Florida Policy Institute; Florida Education Association; Florida National Organization for Women

P.O. Box 1911 Orlando, FL 32802-1911

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