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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

70 percent in classroom idea dies on the vine

The effort to force Florida school districts to spend a minimum 70 percent of their operating funds in the classroom just died after an animated debate on the Senate floor.

Senate sponsor Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, deferred presentation to Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who took the full heat of lawmakers speaking for educators who have huge misgivings about the idea.

"This bill is a soundbite," said Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach. "It is a bumper sticker in search of a bumper. I'm tired of addressing real problems with cosmetic solutions. ... Put my bumper sticker on your car and it would probably help you more" than this bill. 

The proposal relies on the statute that defines instructional personnel to include teachers, social workers, librarians, media specialists, paraprofessionals and related employees. Arguing that the state requires them to bus and feed students and send them to safe, clean schools, many district leaders wanted lawmakers to also include a second statutory definition of instructional expenditures that counts custodians, bus drivers and other personnel in the mix.

"It's interesting that some of the same opponents that find the class-size amendment so unfair are now pushing this rigid system," said Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg.

But it was Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, who's fiery opposition prompted Gaetz to postpone the bill, effectively killing it.

Lynn said someone told her to just vote for it, because it doesn't really do anything. "Why are we wasting our time," she said. "Let's vote it down." 

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:22am]


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