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Broward Democrat sets sights on school board

With less than a year left until term limits force him out of state office, state Rep. Franklin Sands, a Weston Democrat, is setting his sights on the Broward County School Board.

Sands, a former State House Democratic Leader, announced on Wednesday his bid for one of two countywide at-large seats on the nine-member body.

The seat is currently held by Republican Katie Leach, an autism educator who was tapped by Gov. Rick Scott to fill the seat in September, following the abrupt resignation of former board member Jennifer Gottlieb. Leach, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, has said she plans on running next year for the District 4 seat currently held by Maureen Dinnen.

Sands, 71, who has six-grandchildren attending Broward public schools, said he decided to run because he believes his legislative experience will bring new "skill sets" to a board that has had to navigate through $171 million in budget cuts this school year.

"There's funding issues that are tremendously important," Sands said in a phone interview.  This year the state Legislature gutted education funding by $1 billion.

"We've got to readjust our thinking, and realize problems must be solved as part of a collaborative effort," Sands said. "No one person has all the answers."

So far, with election season a year away no one else has signed up to run for the at-large seat according to the Broward Supervisor of Elections website, but seven others have signed up to run for three district seats up for grabs.