In an election year in which two long-time school board members are expected to seek a return to their seats, Metro Councilman Eric Crafton — who’s a potential school board candidate — says he’ll sign a bill proposal tomorrow that could lead to limited terms for Board of Education members.
School board members can currently serve unlimited consecutive terms. Crafton, however, wants board members to follow the same rules as Metro Council members and the vice mayor — those individuals may serve up to four terms, but no more than two consecutively.
“The school board was added to the charter,” Crafton said Friday. “We just need to bring everybody in line in Metro.”
The bill would ask the Tennessee legislature to pass a law limiting the terms of Davidson County school board members according to the rules followed by Metro Council members and the vice mayor.
Crafton said he has legislative support for the bill.
If Crafton follows through, the bill would be added to Metro Council’s agenda Tuesday and could reach Council as early as the April 1 scheduled meeting.
This August, school board seats occupied by the board’s two most senior members — Ed Kindall and George Thompson — will be up for election. Kindall has been on the board since 1985, and Thompson since 1996. Neither Kindall nor Thompson have officially submitted qualifications to run for re-election, though both have picked up petitions from the Davidson County Election Commission.
Crafton has picked up papers to run for the District 9 school board seat currently held by board chair Marsha Warden. Warden has been in office for two terms, and Crafton has stated publicly that it would be fair for her to voluntarily follow the rules Council members follow.
Though Crafton is supporting the bill, there are plenty of arguments for allowing school board members to stick around for a long time, namely that overseeing Metro Nashville Public Schools requires a high degree of specialized knowledge and that progress in public schools takes a long time to implement.
“[Term limits] would further, in my opinion, reduce the institutional memory and continuum of knowledge of what the foundations [are] for many of the proposals and activities of the school board,” board member Thompson said Friday.
Thompson said the board already suffers from the term limitations imposed by the Educational Improvement Act of 1992. Metro charter, Thompson said, allows school board members to serve six-year terms. The EIA had the effect of shortening those terms to four years.
“It opens the door, conceivably, to a lot of outside influences,” Thompson said.
Thompson and Kindall are currently the only two board members – other than Gracie Porter – to have no potential opponents to date. The deadline for all potential candidates to file with the Election Commission is April 3. The general election is slated for Aug. 7.
Crafton has not officially submitted qualifications necessary to run — and if he does, he must immediately step down from his Council seat — but said Friday that he is still “leaning in the direction” of running for school board.