District E Trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne made original proposal for school board member term limits. Photo by Ken Stone

The San Diego City Council voted Monday to place an item on the November ballot that would impose term limits for members of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education.

The ballot measure, originally proposed by school board member Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, would limit board members to three four-year terms during their lifetimes. If approved by voters, term limits would go into effect in 2020.

Prior or current terms would not count against the new limits.

Council members Barbara Bry, Chris Ward, Myrtle Cole, David Alvarez and Georgette Gomez voted in support of the proposed ordinance, while council members Lorie Zapf, Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman voted against it. Councilman Chris Cate wasn’t present.

The measure emerged from months of discussion among education stakeholders and a dozen discarded proposals. A survey conducted by San Diego Unified found public support for term limits.

The same survey also found overwhelming support for the elimination of citywide runoffs in favor of district elections.

Last year, a San Diego County Grand Jury report found that district elections and term limits would return “a large part of the elections process” to voters.

Sherman called the proposed ordinance a “total joke” without a provision regarding district elections.

Kersey also said San Diego Unified ignored public opinion while crafting its ordinance.

“They made up their own remedy to give the veneer of reform without regard for what parents, stakeholders and impartial onlookers, like the Grand Jury, had overwhelmingly called for,” he said.

— City News Service