Alternative class-size changes move ahead
Even the Democrats on the House Schools and Learning Council rose in support of a legislative "fix" to the 2002 class-size amendment today.
The change (PCB SLC 08-08) would maintain the limits on the numbers of students in a classroom, but it would deal with what Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie, called the "unintended consequences" of the voter mandate. Schools would be able to exceed the caps if additional students arrive at a school after the classes are set in the fall.
Marshall Ogletree, speaking for the Florida Education Association, deemed the bill a "great team effort" to maintain the class-size amendment but make it more feasible. "Nobody in education wants to disrupt students' lives," he said, noting the possible alternative that a school would have to break up classes once the dreaded "19th student" enrolls. (The amendment caps K-3 classes at 18 students, 4-8 classes at 22 and high school classes at 25.)
Bill sponsor David Simmons, R-Maitland, has tried for several years to come up with a way to blunt the financial impact of the amendment. "There is no reason for us to force ourselves into an absurd result that is detrimental to the students of this state," he said.
The council of five Democrats and 11 Republicans agreed unanimously. It's not clear if this bill will gain traction in the Senate, which has other ideas in mind. The Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, meanwhile, will reconsider whether to ask voters to scale back the class-size amendment next week.