Class size changes move through once-reluctant Florida Senate
Not too long ago, the Florida Senate was the place where proposals to scale back the state's 2002 class size amendment went to die.
Anything short of changing the amendment smacked of unconstitutionality, members would say, killing idea after idea that came from the more aggressive Florida House.
Now one of the most vocal proponents of easing the rules has moved into the Senate, and he's gaining widespread support for a bill to change the way schools count students for purposes of class size compliance. Sen. David Simmons has resurrected key portions of his failed 2008 legislation, which would let classrooms exceed the set student-teacher ratios after a set time in order to avoid disturbing children's education.
This time, the bill has unanimously cleared two Senate committees (Pre-K-12 and Pre-K-12 Appropriations) and is headed to the Budget Committee before its expected arrival at the full Senate. Very similar language now appears in a catchall education bill introduced in the House and awaiting action by the Appropriations Committee.
The House version includes several other ideas, including adoption of digital textbook requirements by 2014, changes to the review process for adoption of instructional materials, and a repeal of the .25 mill critical-needs local operating tax for school districts. Lots of changes are moving through the Legislature, often in big chunks. Stay tuned.