Poll Finds Voters Support School-Board Term Limits

A proposed constitutional amendment that would impose eight-year term limits on members of county school boards would pass comfortably if it goes on the November ballot, according to a new poll.

The poll, released Tuesday by the Tallahassee-based firm Clearview Research, shows that 68 percent of voters support limiting school-board members to two four-year terms. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission is looking at placing the issue on this year’s general-election ballot.

“The eight-year term limits (proposal) for school board members begins in relatively safe territory for two reasons. First, it begins with 68 percent support and second it is an easy and clear concept for voters to understand,” Steve Vancore, president of Clearview Research, said in comments accompanying the poll results.

The Constitution Revision Commission meets every 20 years and has the power to directly place proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot. Vancore’s firm polled 750 likely voters on a series of issues being considered by the commission, which is expected to finalize a list of ballot proposals this spring.

The proposal to place term limits on school-board members, offered by Constitution Revision Commission member Erika Donalds, has drawn widespread attention — and objections from groups such as the Florida School Boards Association and the League of Women Voters of Florida.

“This proposal would apply to only one group among several similar groups of local elected officials,” the school boards association said in a document on its website. “It seems discriminatory and punitive to single out one group to be subjected to these conditions and limitations that are not applied equally to all similar groups.”

Nevertheless, term limits — which were approved in 1992 for members of the state Legislature — have been popular with voters. The poll results released Tuesday indicate that 68 percent of voters would “definitely” or “probably” vote for school-board term limits, while only 25 percent would “definitely” or “probably” vote no.

Constitutional amendments require 60 percent approval to pass.

Clearview Research conducted the poll from March 1 through last Wednesday, with the results having a margin of error of 3.58 percentage points. The firm on Tuesday released the results of three questions about proposed constitutional amendments.

While the term-limits proposal received broad support, voters appear unlikely to approve another high-profile proposal that would lift a ban on state money being used to support churches and other religious groups — what is commonly known as the “no aid” provision of the Constitution.

The no-aid provision, for example, has become an issue in debates about school vouchers. The 1st District Court of Appeal in 2004 cited the provision in striking down a voucher program that paid for children to go to religious schools, though the Florida Supreme Court later found the program unconstitutional on other grounds.

The poll indicated only 41 percent of voters said they “definitely” or “probably” would support a proposed constitutional amendment to remove the no-aid provision from the Constitution, while 51 percent said they definitely or probably would not.

Vancore acknowledged difficulty in wording the poll question to come up with a “neutral and accurate” description of the proposal and consulted with an election attorney, Glenn Burhans, about wording issues. But Vancore said the firm decided to stick closely with the way the proposed constitutional amendment is worded.

“With that we are comfortable with the language as it accurately describes the actual impact and, as such, (the proposal) begins in a very poor position with a majority (51 percent) voting ‘no’ and only 41 percent indicating a ‘yes’ vote,” Vancore said in the written comments. “As worded, this item would have virtually no chance of attaining the 60 percent threshold.”

The other results released Tuesday dealt with a proposed constitutional amendment to change the state’s primary-election system and end what is widely described as the “write-in loophole.”

Under current law, all voters, regardless of affiliation, are able to vote in primaries if the candidates are from one party. For example, if a race draws only two Republican candidates, the primary would be open to Democratic and unaffiliated voters.

But when a write-in candidate enters the race, it closes the primary. For example, two Republicans and a write-in candidate in a race would mean that only Republican voters can cast ballots in the primary, effectively shutting out Democrats and unaffiliated voters.

The proposed constitutional amendment would end the ability of write-in candidates to close primaries. The poll found that 58 percent of voters support the idea, while 26 percent oppose it. Vancore pointed, however, to the complex language of the ballot proposal and said that whether it would pass is “anyone’s guess at this time.”

By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

10 Responses to "Poll Finds Voters Support School-Board Term Limits"

  1. Catherine   March 13, 2018 at 9:55 am

    For years citizens have been demanding local control of education issues and now the CRC and the legislature comes up with term limits. While term limits can be a good thing, it is very difficult for rural communities to get qualified people to run for school board. This will be a serious problem for small rural districts. There are districts in FL that have term limits for school board. This should be a local decision and not embedded in our Constitution.

  2. Bill   March 13, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Just for the moment let’s talk about the Leon County School Board and what they do or don’t do. They have not yet held Mr Hanna accountable for costing taxpayers $600,000 when he admitted to the school board attorney that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing. So without any first-hand knowledge of any wrongdoing he claimed whistleblower, the school board more than likely granted it to him and what he claimed was whistleblower information turned out to be all lies that he put together. In addition, they are well aware that Mr Hanna has an affidavit filed against him for the record that calls into question legal and ethical matters.

    They have allowed Mr Hanna to select five assistant superintendents without an interview. So they do not oversee any policy on personnel. They have allowed Mr. Hanna to rehire his political cronies who have completed the deferred retirement option program and are now back. They have allowed schools to game the accountability system by placing all students in advanced classes so they don’t have to take the US History test. So what is it that the School Board does?

  3. alex   March 13, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Two term limit would be a good thing. Add appointed superintendent and we all win. Since the 1980’s , most of Leon County school board members have been retired school board employees or Dept. of Education employees. Parents of our students need to run and get involved.

  4. alex   March 13, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    Currently, we have three Leon County school board members up for re-election in 2018. Mrs. Butler has no one file to run against her, I think she has served six terms. Mrs. Bowen has a former Godby teacher and employee of TCC filed to run and Mrs. Striplin has a current school board employee filed to run against her. They are keeping it in the family to protect Mr Hanna. Parents need to stop this now.

  5. Ty   March 13, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Two words – DATA BREACH.
    Hanna mislead the public again. They had the information about the data breach for one month before sharing the issue Petley…unmm we were setting up call centers and developing a letter…. Yet another set of lies from Hanna. Lying is an ethics violation. School board where are you?

    • LD   March 14, 2018 at 10:46 am

      This is not the first data breach under Rocky. Its just the first that has been made public.

  6. Mark   March 16, 2018 at 7:46 am

    To date Rocky Hanna and his cronies known as associate superintendent have bungled the award of the best and brightest to teachers, they have lied and purposely misled on the data breach, he has never admitted publicly that he put together documents in a notebook that cost taxpayers $600,000 is a personal Vendetta against the former superintendent, he has never admitted that his promotions have been political payback, a recent award the construction project to someone who contributed to Mr Hanna’s campaign who has been a long-time supporter of Mr Hanna suddenly gets a large construction project, while Mr Pridgen resigns. Doesn’t anyone seem to find this odd that a buddy of Hannah’s gets a huge contract after contributing to his campaign and Pridgon resigns quietly because he doesn’t want to blow the whistle on what Rocky told him to do with the bids.

    Spencer the school board sets, they do nothing, they refuse to hold anyone accountable, this is why we need an appointed superintendent and term-limits.

  7. Mimi   March 16, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Petley was quoted as saying the reason they didn’t notify right away was because their “lawyers” told them not to. They had 30 days to notify under the law. So their lawyers told them to wait until the very last day. Obviously no thought to the people or kids affected, just how far they could go. The lawyers don’t make the decisions, the superintendent does. And if FLVS is 100% responsible, how come Leon sent out the notification letters to the teachers and not FLVS?That doesn’t add up. Could it be they spent the extra weeks trying to figure out how to pin it all on FLVS and were in the end unsuccessful?

  8. Marion   March 16, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    It is amazing how on target the posts are and yet nothing changes in LCS. What will it take to hold the board and in particular the superintendent accountable? To all of these misuses of power add his lack of handing the Pineview principal’s misuse of funds. This community needs to attend board meetings and demand accountability.

  9. alex   March 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    If you really want another interesting fact about the Pineview principal, ask Mr, Hanna where he found her living at tax payer expense. Bet you will not get an answer.


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