The Collier County School Board

Collier County School Board

Updated 9/16/23

Each of Florida’s 67 counties constitutes a school district, which is different from where many of us lived before moving here. As a result, Florida school districts can serve a large number of students, have a large number of schools, and have large budgets.

The Collier County School District serves 50,000 students in 64 schools with a budget of $1.4 billion. See the Collier County School District profile here and the District’s budget here.

Each Florida school district is governed by a school board comprised of at least five members who serve staggered terms of four years. The Collier County School Board has five members elected by voters countywide.

School taxes represent nearly 40% of a homeowner’s total property tax. This is one reason it’s important to know who is on the school board and what their priorities are.

A recent state law reduced the time a school board member may serve to 8 years from 12 years. The shorter term limit applies to service of a term beginning on or after November 8, 2022.

Each November, the board elects a chair as its presiding officer at an organizational meeting.


Florida’s school boards have the responsibility to “operate, control, and supervise all public schools within the school district” and determine the rate of school district taxes within constitutional limits. (Article IX of the Florida Constitution)

School boards also exercise all powers and duties assigned by law and are subject to rules adopted by the Florida Board of Education.

In Collier County, the school board appoints the superintendent. Collier is one of just 29 school districts that have this responsibility. In Florida’s other 38 districts, the superintendent is elected.

Florida school board members are subject to the Florida Sunshine Law, which means they cannot privately communicate with each other on an issue that is to be voted on by the board. The three basic requirements of the Sunshine Law are that 1) meetings of public boards, commissions, and committees must be open to the public, 2) reasonable notice of such meetings must be given, and 3) minutes of meetings must be taken.


State law dictates school board member salaries, which are a function of the county population.

Collier County School Board members’ fiscal year 2022-23 salary is $45,917. See historical data here.


The only requirement to run for school board is residency in the district for which the candidate is running. See the district map below.

However, no person convicted of a felony or adjudicated in Florida or any other state to be mentally incompetent may hold any office until the restoration of civil rights or removal of disability. (Article VI, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution)

School Board Elections

School board members are presently elected in nonpartisan elections. But a proposed amendment to the Florida constitution on the 2024 ballot would make the elections partisan, beginning in 2026.

Passage of amendments to the Florida constitution requires approval by 60 percent of the voters and is not subject to the governor’s veto.

District Map

While all five school board members are elected at large by all voters countywide, one board member is required by law to live in each of the county’s five county commission districts.

This is the most recent Collier County district map:

Collier County commissioner district map
Click to enlarge

Enter your address to find your commissioner district.

School Board Members

The current Collier County School Board members, the dates they entered office, and the dates their terms end are:

DistrictSchool Board MemberIn Service FromTerm Ends
1Jerry Rutherford
2Stephanie Lucarelli
3Kelly Lichter
4Erick Carter
5Timothy Moshier

School board members’ official biographies can be found on their school board web pages (links here). Information from past Sparker’s Soapbox research dating to when each was running for office are below:

District 1 — Jerry Rutherford

Jerry Rutherford

Jerry Rutherford, 85, moved to Southwest Florida from Orlando, FL, in 1982. After graduating from high school, he had a 20+ year career in life insurance sales and a 20+ year career as a painting contractor.

Rutherford says he became politically active upon moving here, serving as Chairman of the Christian Coalition in Collier County in 1992 and 1993. He also founded and served as president for ten years of World Changers of Florida, a local Christian organization that distributes free Bibles to high school students.

He has three sons from previous marriages, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He and his wife have two daughters and six grandchildren, two of whom are currently students in Collier County Public Schools.

District 2 — Stephanie Lucarelli

Stephanie Lucarelli

Stephanie Lucarelli grew up and was educated in New Jersey. She has a BS in Natural Resource Management and a teaching certificate from Rutgers University (NJ). She began her career in education teaching seventh- and eighth-grade science.

Lucarelli moved to Naples in 2006. She has volunteered at various Collier County Public Schools since 2004, has been a guest teacher for the District since 2013, and has also served on the District’s Accreditation Committee and Head Start Policy Council.

She has four children who attend or graduated from Collier County public schools and has been active in their Parent Teacher Organizations for 17 years.

Lucarelli was unchallenged for reelection to a second term in 2020.

District 3 — Kelly Lichter

Kelly Lichter

Kelly Lichter is originally from Cedar Lake, IN. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Baldwin Wallace College (OH) and a Master’s in Social Studies Education from Nova Southeastern University (FL).

Lichter moved to Naples in 2006 and taught US History, Economics, and Government in the Collier County public schools for a few years before starting her family.

She is the founding and current board president of Mason Classical Academy, a Naples area charter school that opened in 2014, which her two children attend. Lichter volunteers in her church’s youth ministry and competes in local triathlons, duathlons, and running races.

Lichter previously served one term on the School Board from 2014 to 2018 but elected at the time not to run for a second term.

District 4 — Erick Carter

Erick Carter

Erick Carter was raised in Summerville, SC, and attended Trident Technical College in North Charleston. After pursuing a passion for the performing arts, he became a ballroom dance instructor with a national company, which brought him to Naples in the early 1990s.

He graduated from Lorenzo Walker Technical College’s (LWTC) Cosmetology Program and has been a co-owner of Salon Zenergy, a successful local business, for over twenty years. During that time, he also served as an LWTC guest instructor, student intern host, and national training course instructor for Conair, Rusk Products, and Martin Parsons Inc.

His one child attended a Collier County public school.

Carter was unchallenged for reelection to a second term in 2020.

District 5 — Timothy Moshier

Tim Moshier

Timothy Moshier is a graduate of Northwood University in Midland, MI. In 1994, he began a career with Ryder System, transferring in 1997 from Ohio to Miami, where he worked in the transportation and logistics division until 2021.

Before his election to the School Board, Moshier served on the Ochopee (FL) Fire Board and the Town Compliance Board and attended Everglades City (FL) Council and Special meetings. He began attending Collier County school board meetings in 2021. “It all started with the mask mandate,” he said. “I didn’t think we should be masking our children.”

He is the father of three and grandfather of four.

School Board Meetings

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Administrative Center

School board meetings are typically held on the second Tuesday of each month at 4:30 p.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Administrative Center, 5775 Osceola Trail, Naples. The business portion of regular board meetings begins at 5:00 p.m.

Click here for the Calendar of Meetings and Work Sessions.

Meetings are live-streamed on the CCPS Education Channel, and recordings are available online.

Public Participation in Board Meetings

The public may attend school board meetings in person or remotely.

Individuals who would like to participate in person must complete and submit a speaker form, available outside the meeting room, before the beginning of the meeting, as the District’s website explains.

Speakers will be limited to three minutes unless granted additional time by the board chair.

Members of the public may also contact school board members outside the board meeting by email or other forms of communication.

The Superintendent

The superintendent is responsible for carrying out policies and overseeing the district’s day-to-day operations. See the Collier School District organization chart here.

Leslie Ricciardelli

The superintendent is also the secretary and executive officer of the school board.

Leslie Ricciardelli has been the Collier District’s superintendent since July 2023. She has held multiple instructional and administrative roles during a 30-year career in public education in Collier County. Read more of the superintendent’s profile here.

For more on the selection of Ricciardelli as Collier County’s 20th superintendent, see my prior posts here.

The Political Environment

K-12 education is shaping up to be a key issue in the 2024 election cycle, according to the Pew Research Center in June 2023.

Alfie Oake’s Freedom Picks
Alfie Oakes

But in Collier County, that’s nothing new. Despite the fact that Florida school board elections are nonpartisan (meaning that candidates run without declaring a party affiliation and all voters may vote in the school board primaries), politics has been very much in play in our school board elections for years. For example, see Alfie Oakes backed candidates win Collier County School Board races, WINK News, 11/9/22.

Republicans elected Oakes, the face of Collier County’s anti-mask movement and the owner of Seed to Table grocery store, to represent them as their Republican State Committeeman in 2020. He received 60% of the votes, as voters “unceremoniously dumped” Doug Rankin, a “staunch Republican” and “fixture” in the local party.

In addition to having the Oakes endorsement, Lichter, Moshier, and Rutherford were endorsed by the Collier County Republican Executive Committee, which published a voter guide/palm card mailed and distributed to voters at polling places.

For more on the 2022 elections, see Collier County Primary Elections: Recap and Reflections, Sparker’s Soapbox, 9/7/22, and Florida and Collier County Election Results — 2022, Sparker’s Soapbox, 11/20/22.

It is important that voters are aware of the bigger picture when they are evaluating candidates for school board.


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