Effort to eliminate school board members’ pay heads to final House panel

The question would appear on the 2022 ballot.

Florida Politics | by Renzo Downey | April 1, 2021

A House panel has given its approval to a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate pay for school board members.

The idea is to turn away members who “stick around for a paycheck.”

The resolution (HJR 1461), carried by Fleming Island Republican Rep. Sam Garrison, passed the House Early Learning and Elementary Education Subcommittee Thursday. Next, it heads to the Education and Employment Committee, its final panel.

Florida is a national outlier in the amount of compensation school board members receive. Across the country, 61% of district school board members receive no compensation. Most of the remaining members receive $5,000 a year or less.

“The role the board serves is important, but it is limited, and the salary should reflect that,” Garrison said.

The contemplated provisions would apply to “newly elected members of a district school board elected on or after November 8, 2022, and to members of a district school board reelected on or after November 8, 2022, with at least eight years of consecutive service,” according to bill language.

The measure would “reform district school board compensation” by giving voters the chance to amend the Florida Constitution to end the practice of paying board members. With changes made in committee, it would apply to new board members immediately and to existing board members after eight years of service, effectively in 2030.

That question would appear on the 2022 ballot and require the approval of 60% of voters.

Democrats argued some people make working on school boards their only job. Superintendents and principals should be doing the full-time work, not the politicians who hire them, Garrison said.

“Respectfully for those folks for whom rely on service to the school board for their job, I would say we have a different understanding of what that service looks like,” he added.

The proposal next heads to the House Education and Employment Committee. But there is currently no Senate companion for the resolution.

Photo: Fleming Island Rep. Sam Garrison. Image via Colin Hackley.

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