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Class-size alternative: Take a break



Gaetznew As lawmakers once again seek to blunt the impact of the 2002 class-size amendment, yet another idea has emerged in the Florida Senate - a simple one-year hiatus.

When implementing the amendment, lawmakers required school districts to meet the voter-approved classroom counts by 2008-09, Senate Education chairman Don Gaetz (left) observes. The actual amendment, however, doesn't mandate compliance until the 2010-11 school year.

So why not take a year off and save the estimated $600-million in added recurring costs during this dismal budget year, Gaetz wonders. He considers the concept a cleaner, simpler approach than the "emergency" idea working its way through the House, although he didn't rule out the Senate's consideration of that plan, too.

Gaetz, who opposed the amendment from the start as Okaloosa superintendent, says he most prefers the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission proposal of having voters scale back the rule to school averages: "The best long-term solution to what I think will be a very chaotic final step in the implementation of the amendment is to make a constitutional change."

But if the Senate, which has proven the "burr under the saddle of trying to get flexibility into class size," can move ahead on any relief proposal, he suggests, perhaps it's worth considering. And if the House and Senate come up with wildly different solutions to the same problem, Gaetz adds, "That's why we have conference committees."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:34am]


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