Voters turned out two leaders of the Florida School Boards Association in campaigns contested on school choice and Florida’s new math and language arts standards. But incumbents mostly won reelection across Florida Tuesday night, or advanced to a November runoff.
Two-term Indian River school board member Karen Disney-Brombach was defeated by Shawn Frost and Volusia County school board member Diane Smith was ousted by Melody Johnson. Disney-Brombach is the president of the Florida School Boards Association and Smith was slated to follow her.
The incumbents viewed the races as proxy battles over the school boards association’s plans to challenge a private school tax scholarship program in court. School choice advocacy group the Federation For Children — which shares leadership with the non-profit which oversees the tax credit scholarship program — bought advertising targeting the incumbents in both races.
But on the west coast of Florida, incumbent school board candidates largely won reelection. Sarasota voters rejected two candidates in a race largely shaped by the debate over Florida’s Common Core-based math and language arts standards. From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
The candidates were divided on Common Core, the national standards that say what students must know in each grade for math and English Language arts.
The state altered them slightly and renamed them “Florida Standards.”
Wolff and McLendon — two Republicans with ties to the Tea Party — opposed Common Core and said they feared losing local control.
Brown, a Democrat, and Goodwin, a Republican, argued the district was moving in the right direction with Common Core. They supported the standards and said the more challenging standards would better prepare students for life.
All three Hillsborough County school board races are heading to a runoff, including incumbent April Griffin. Three Pinellas County school board incumbents won reelection, as did a Pasco County board member.
Hernando County voters elected three new members to the school board.
Broward County’s school board will look much the same, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. That includes Ann Murray, whose use of a racial epithet in 2007 was an issue during the campaign. Murray narrowly defeated Felicia Mychele Brunson.
It was a similar story in Miami-Dade County, where the district’s two longest-serving board members, Perla Tabarez Hantman and Marta Perez, won reelection.
In Duval County, voters in a district with low-performing schools that is the focus of a multi-million dollar teacher recruitment effort reelected incumbent Paula Wright.
Orange County voters extended a half-cent addition to their sales tax for another decade. The tax will raise $2 billion to pay for school construction and renovations. Nearly two-thirds of Orange County voters cast ballots in favor of keeping the tax. Volusia County voters also extended a half-cent addition to the sales tax for school funding.