State toughens up term limits for local school boards. Now, it will be 8 years

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Last year’s imposition of 12-year term limits for Florida local school board members apparently was not limiting enough for state legislators, who doubled down in this year’s session to enact an eight-year term limit, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

School board members already seated in office prior to Nov. 8, 2022, are grandfathered-in under the 12-year limits. The new eight-year term limits apparently would only apply to any new members elected in 2024 and beyond.

Local school board Chair Dr. Peggy Jones said the new law is quite confusing and that she had sought clarification on the grandfather clause.

But it would appear that school board vice chair Teri Barenborg and board member Jackie Rosario, both elected in 2018 and re-elected in 2022, would be eligible to run in 2026.

Jones and the other two members first elected in 2020 would appear eligible to run in 2024, and if re-elected, again in 2028.

Barenborg said she thought 12 years was the sweet spot for the termlimit of school board members, balancing mentorship, knowledgeable board members and fresh thought.

“When they passed them last year it was 12 years and I thought that was very fair because I learned a lot from board members in the past that had been on for quite a few years,” Barenborg said. “I think your first term, you’re learning a lot. Then, in your second term, you’re kind of reaching your stride.

“But I just know that last year it was 12 years and this year it’s eight. So I don’t know if next year it’s going to be four,” Barenborg joked.

“It’s good that we have a lot of new blood on board but I also think that it’s good to have some sort of stability as well.”

“I am OK with term limits so we can get new blood once in a while, as long as they are they are 100 percent for our public school students at all times,” Jones added.

The bill passed on a 79-29 vote in the House and a 30-7 vote in the Senate, and was supported by District 34 Rep. Robert Brackett and District 29 Sen. Erin Grall. The term limits only apply to members of school boards, not other elected county-level boards.

Staff writer Ray McNulty contributed to this report.

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