Pres. Gaetz addresses FCSBM

Herald Tribune: School board members take rival messages to Tallahassee


Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler listens as state Sen. Don Gaetz addresses a gathering of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members in Tallahassee Wednesday.

Published: Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 10:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 10:41 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE - Sarasota County's five School Board members used the school district's spring break this week to lobby legislators and talk education policy in the state capital. But they weren't all always working from the same playbook.

Board members Bridget Ziegler and Caroline Zucker spent part of their time advocating for the rival statewide school board organizations.

Zucker, president-elect of the 40-year-old Florida School Board Association, went to legislative sessions with other officials from the organization on Wednesday and Thursday. She also attended several board meetings for the group.

The organization opposes a state school voucher program and has sued the state over a program that gives students scholarships to attend private schools or schools outside of their assigned district, using money from private corporations that get tax credits for donating to fund the scholarships.

Ziegler, meanwhile, spent part of her time in Tallahassee promoting a conservative counterpart to the association, the new Florida Coalition of School Board of School Board Members. The group was established in part because of opposition to the lawsuit.

“There is a great deal of excitement about the coalition,” Ziegler said at a gathering of about two dozen people Wednesday at an office building near the Capitol, including conservative school district officials from across the state, lawmakers and lobbyists who advocate for school choice issues.

The coalition got a boost from Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican and former school board member who recently completed a two-year term as senate president. He urged the group to advance policies they believe in, even if they're unpopular with other board members.

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