The Sweetwater Union High School District passed Measure CC during the Nov. 8 general election which limits the service of District Board Trustees. This measure was placed on the ballot by the governing board of the SUHSD and won, amending the Board Bylaws.
“The board members thought it would be good for the district if they served for an established term within the district,” SUHSD board superintendent Karen Janney said.
Measure CC was passed on a ballot with the the proposed Board Bylaw amendment that would add “Term Limits” to the service of each trustee and will go into effect on Dec. 1. Current board members will not be affected by the measure, for they are not limited in the number of terms they may serve.
“The Sweetwater Union High School District Board of Trustees believes that setting a limit on the number of terms an individual may serve will cause a rejuvenation by bringing fresh ideas and broadening the range of persons making important decisions affecting the district, its students and schools,” District Board Area Three Trustee Frank Tarantino said.
The proposed Board Bylaw amendment will change this by imposing a two term limit on Board Members and provides that any person who serves more than one-half of a full term will be deemed to have served a full term. Any Board Member who resigns or is removed from office will be removed from serving a full term.
“I think that a lot of people are in favor of term limits for elected officials because there is a perception out there, not just for school boards, but for elected officials. People fear that you don’t have the same energy or excitement about your role as an elected official. That is why they put this in place because they believe that fresh people coming in every two terms would be a healthy thing,” District Board Area Two Trustee Kevin Pike said.
Each member is elected by registered voters in the community. During the Nov. 8 general election, 85.54 percent of the community voted yes on the ballot while 14.46 percent voted against limiting service terms. According to Janney, those who voted for the measure thought limits to be in the best interest of the district. Janney speculates the reasoning behind the no ballot may be due to the fear of change within the district and a desire to preserve the productivity shown to date.
“Some people believe that the current board is doing such a good job, so they don’t want them to be in term limits but you can never predict that. [This] is what the current board was basically saying by putting this measure on ballot. You can’t predict [whether]a person is going to stay the same. They just wanted to give the district what is called positive organizational health by having new people,” Janney said.
Currently appointed board members would stay in position for another two years. The current board members were elected in the November of 2014 by registered voters in the community and therefore think it is in the best interest of the district, to serve a second term.
“When I ran for the Board in 2014, one of my campaign promises was that I would work with the other Trustees and district leadership to bring about term limits. I felt that this was important because many of the prior Trustees had been on the Board too long—some as long as 24 years. I believe that serving on the school board should not become someone’s career,” Tarantino said.
Measure CC was a proposition created by the board trustees themselves. They voted yes unanimously.
“There should be two term limits so that members don’t become complacent in their work. New members bring new ideas, and a strong desire to make a difference in their work. This gives people an opportunity to show their leadership skills and ability to work with the district employees and the community they serve,” Pike said.