Today, two parishes — Jefferson and Lafayette — have term limits in place for members of their school boards. In 62 other parishes, and parts of parishes in the case of smaller school districts, the Legislature has mandated a special election on Nov. 6 to decide if term limits will be imposed.
Maybe it’s a cliché, but we continue to believe that the best term limit is the ballot box.
The mandated elections in each school district are part of the larger war between school boards, which run traditional school systems, and the self-styled reformers who have pushed dramatic changes in the shape of public education in recent years.
It is an increasingly bitter divide that we think is regrettable. School board members, long-serving or not, should be energetic school reformers, too — and the reform brigades would benefit from listening to, and working with, board members who supervise, after all, most of the schools educating children in Louisiana.
Term limits of 12 consecutive years of service would be required in any district where voters approve the ballot proposition.
The limit would take effect with elections after Jan. 1, 2014, which means that even board members who have served for decades could do so for another 12 years if local voters backed the limits. A vote against the “local option” blocks term limits.
Term limits have proved popular but their effect is, of course, to mandate removal of qualified members, just as they might remove unqualified members who are able to get re-elected. In the latter case, does it not stand to reason that voters would have already excused those members anyway?
We have always questioned the wisdom of term limits for legislative-type offices, and do so again. We urge voters to reject the proposed term limits.