Knox County commissioners consider school board term-limits

Knox County commissioners consider school board term-limits

Posted:
Commissioners will discuss the plan Monday. Commissioners will discuss the plan Monday.
All other elected offices in Knox County are term limited, with the exception of judicial judges and school board members. All other elected offices in Knox County are term limited, with the exception of judicial judges and school board members.
The commission's resolution would need support from state lawmakers. The commission's resolution would need support from state lawmakers.
"There's more than one person in your community that can make a good decision," Commissioner R. Larry Smith said. "There's more than one person in your community that can make a good decision," Commissioner R. Larry Smith said.
"I would say 99 out of the 100 people I talk to about this issue don't know that we're not term limited," school board member Doug Harris said. "I would say 99 out of the 100 people I talk to about this issue don't know that we're not term limited," school board member Doug Harris said.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A number of Knox County commissioners are pushing a plan that would give voters the chance to put term limits on school board members. 

Commissioners will discuss the plan Monday.

Commissioner Mike Brown says the time is now for the resolution. He says that for years voters in his district have wanted school board members to be term limited.  

All other elected offices in Knox County are term limited, with the exception of judicial judges and school board members. 

R. Larry Smith is another commissioner who wants to put the question of term limiting school board members before the voters.

"There's more than one person in your community that can make a good decision. Let's let those individuals give other people chances to make decisions," Smith said. 

The commission's resolution would need support from state lawmakers. A 1992 state law prohibits school board members from being term limited.

The law can't be changed until lawmakers reconvene in Nashville next year. Still, some officials say they want to get the ball rolling early.

"This gives them time for the legislature to get a form they can be ready to go come January," Brown said. 

Commissioner Amy Broyles supports term limiting school board members, but opposes the resolution because it wasn't discussed before legislators went back into session this year.  

"I'm concerned about the timing of it. It seems like there's been a great deal of piling on the school board recently and I have a problem with that," Broyles said.  

School board member Doug Harris, who was elected in 2012, hasn't heard the public outcry for term limiting school board seats.

"I would say 99 out of the 100 people I talk to about this issue don't know that we're not term limited," Harris said.

Harris says he's doesn't have a problem with the talk of term limits, and says most board members don't serve more than a couple terms anyway.

"I don't see it as a problem right now that there's a group of people that have controlled the board for 20 or 30 years. So yeah, it's been a healthy turnover," Harris said.

The resolution won't be the first time the commission proposed state legislation to grant power to create local elections.

In February, commissioners discussed whether to support proposed state legislation to give local government the power to create partisan school boards. 

After the commission tabled the resolution, the two sponsors, State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey and State Rep. Bill Dunn, both Knoxville Republicans, said they would not present the bill before committee.

On the same day, commissioners tabled a resolution to support state legislation to elect school superintendents.

"We've had three resolutions in a row where we were asking the legislature to take action on our behalf, and that's all coming from the other side of the table," Broyles said. 

Knox County School Board Chair Karen Carson said she can't imagine why the issue is up for discussion, adding, "There are much more important things to worry about."  

The discussion all comes on the heels of budget discussions.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett will release his budget Wednesday, which includes how much money will be allocated for the school system.

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