Back in December, the Warsaw Community School Corporation Board of Trustees passed a resolution to extend board members’  term limits.

Right now, you can serve two consecutive four-year terms on the school board and then you have to sit out four years before you can run again.

Under the change spelled out in the resolution, school board members would be able to serve four consecutive four-year terms before sitting out.

This means school board members would be able to serve 16 consecutive years instead of eight.

During the December meeting, the board’s attorney, Timothy S. Shelly, of Warrick & Boyn LLP, said the change would be a good idea.

He said the board has been talking about the issue for more than three years and that term limits cause school boards to lose a lot of expertise. Here’s a Shelly quote from the meeting:

“Part of the problem with only serving eight years is that laws have changed for things like school construction, school funding, even the process that you use for hiring a superintendent could be affected by the timeframe you work with and the term limits that you have now.”

He told the board that makes them more reliant on advisers such as himself, insurance representatives and referendum consultants, which isn’t fair to the people who elect the board. The professionals may know the law, insurance and school financing, “but we don’t know your community and the pulse of your community like you all,” he said.

While all of that makes sense, it might be a tad overstated because the way the board is set up, terms are staggered. That means there’s never going to be a time when there isn’t at least a couple of board members with at least four years of experience.

Nonetheless, I can see where it can be tough for school corporations to attract board members. Many times, they have to be recruited.

Couple this with the fact that only 10 or so school boards out of 289 in the state have term limits at all, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to let Warsaw school board members serve 16 years.

But for some reason, it is.

We’ve received a couple of letters to the editor about the issue and it appears that a group of voters is going to launch a petition drive to challenge the school board’s resolution.

Voters have 120 days from the board’s action to file a petition objecting to the plan. They need signatures from 500 voters – or 20 percent of the district’s voters – whichever is smaller.

The petition has to be filed with the clerk of the circuit court and the signatures have to be certified.

If that happens, a special election would be held and school district patrons would get to vote on the plan to extend the term limits. The question would appear on the May primary election ballot.

The school board’s vote on the original resolution was 6 to 1, with Dan Metzger, of Silver Lake, the only member voting no.

For informational purposes, here’s a rundown of current Warsaw School Board members and when their terms end:

Heather Reichenbach – District 2 – board president for 2018 – board member since January 2015 – term ends Dec. 31, 2018.

Matt Dick – District 1 – board vice president for 2018 – board member since January 2011 – term ends Dec. 31, 2018.

Jeremy Mullins – District 5 – board secretary for 2018 – board member since October 2017 – (fulfilling board member Jennifer Tandy’s term) – term ends Dec. 31, 2018.

Jay Baumgartner – District 6 – board member since January 2013 – term ends Dec. 31, 2020.

Dan Metzger – District 7 – board member since January 2011 – term ends Dec. 31, 2018.

Randy Polston – District 4 – board member since January 2013 – term ends Dec. 31, 2020.

Elle Turley – District 3 – board member since January 2017 – term ends Dec. 31, 2020.

Just two board members – Dick and Metzger –  would be affected by the change this year. It would allow them to run for a third consecutive term in November. Metzger was the lone vote against the change.

I’m not sure the school board is willing to push this issue all the way to a special election. I could be wrong, but if I had to bet, I would say the board would revisit its resolution before it got to that point.

All this begs the question of why people would care so much how long people sit on the Warsaw School Board? What is it that got these folks whipped into a frenzy to the point where they’re writing letters to the editor and considering passing around petitions?

I believe the school board has the best interest of Warsaw Schools in mind. There are lots of positive things happening in Warsaw Schools right now. Anecdotally, I have heard from people who decided to move into this community based on its schools.

This term limits issue seems like a distraction – and a divisive one at that.

My hope is that patrons and the school board can find a way to resolve it without resorting to petitions and referendums.