Gruters pushes proposal for partisan school boards

Sun Port Charlotte | By Jim Turner | December 19, 2022

TALLAHASSEE — Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who doubles as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, filed a proposal Monday that seeks partisan school-board elections.

The proposal (SJR 94) is identical to a measure (HJR 31) filed this month by Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers. They will be considered during the 2023 regular legislative session, which will start in March.

If passed by the Legislature, the proposal would need voter approval in 2024 because it would be a constitutional amendment.

School-board races are required to be nonpartisan contests under the Constitution.

But the proposal would change that to allow candidates to run with party affiliations starting in 2026.

Past attempts to shift to partisan school-board elections failed. But the new proposals come after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democratic leaders got involved in supporting school-board candidates in some areas of the state in this year’s elections, including Gruters’s own district in Sarasota County, where a new conservative majority was elected.

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