When the Lee County School Board voted recently to rid its classrooms of state-mandated tests, it backed off the next day after realizing the state could punish it if it stood firm.
Last month, the Pasco County School Board said it wanted to end the first semester of 2015-16 before winter break. But state law forced it to move it into January.
Hernando County board members, fearing lawsuits, bristled at adopting an anti-bullying policy. But they had to give in after learning they would lose $500,000 in state funding if they didn’t comply.
Florida school board members are constitutional officers with clearly delineated duties, including independent taxing authority. They’re not supposed to be subservient to any other governmental body.
Yet over the past decade or so, school boards have felt the slow erosion of many powers as state lawmakers and the Florida Board of Education have hemmed them in with mandates — often with no money to carry them out. As boards prepare to swear in new members and select new leaders Nov. 18, the conversation can’t help but include the question of whether they’ve lost some of their relevance.