Consultations have cleared up confusion concerning a proposition that would limit local school board members to three terms if passed by voters this fall.
"The way the law reads, it is difficult to understand when the clock starts ticking on term limits," school board member Jerry Lott said. "Which is why we consulted with our attorney, so we would all understand the upcoming proposition."
School board member Frankie Mitchell agrees with Lott on the importance of understanding the proposition.
"The voters need to know what they are voting on," she said. "We even spoke with the Louisiana School Board Association just to be clear."
For clarification, board members reached out to board attorney Jon Guice and Scott Richard, who is the Executive Director of Louisiana School Boards Association.
"It is our understanding that if the voters of a district approve the term limit proposition, the actual effective date starts with January 1, 2014," said Richard. "Further, all board members service prior to January 1, 2014 does not count toward the term limit – and, the term limit would be effective after 2 and a half terms in three consecutive terms from the date of January 1, 2014."
Although board members who have already served two and one-half terms will continue to be able to serve for another 12 years, Lott feels that was likely not the intention of the writers of the legislation.
"It seems to me, this was written to attempt to remove long-standing members in local districts," he said. "Although it will not affect who can serve as a board member in this election, it will in the future."
House Bill 292, which became Act No. 386, provides for an election in every school district, with limited exceptions, on November 6 to determine whether the members of the school board in each district will be term limited.
According to Act 386. "term limitation is approved by the qualified electors, then each member of the school board of that district who at the end of his term of office will have served as a member for more than two and one-half terms in three consecutive terms, such service being during terms that began on or after Jan. 1, 2014, shall not be elected to the board for the succeeding term. Provides that if a majority of the qualified electors vote against such proposition, then the term limitation shall not apply in that district."
The option on the November 6 ballot reads, "Within Webster Parish School District: Shall the number of terms of office that any member of the school board may serve be limited to three consecutive four-year terms?"