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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Class size counts begin today



After weeks spent scrambling to meet Florida's class size rules, school districts started their head counts today to find out if they met the mark.

It's time for the fall FTE audit, when schools account for every student in every classroom. It used to be that the tally mattered mostly to determine how much money each district got from the state. But this year, it's more high stakes.

The count is also the determining factor for whether schools met the final phase of the 2002 class size amendment, which limits the number of students in every core course, room by room, hour by hour. Those that miss the mark face penalties of about $3,000 per student over.

Getting to the goal has pushed principals and district-level administrators to change student schedules, move teachers around, cut programs and more. Many have argued that it's not in the best interest of education. Others have contended that without the amendment, which voters will consider relaxing next month, the schools would have less funding and be in a worse position.

In most cases, the schools are finding solutions.

We recently reported on Sand Pine Elementary School in Pasco County, for instance, where one extra first grader would push its classes over the 18-student limit. As it turned out, the school received three extra first graders.

Principal Todd Cluff decided to create a multi-grade class with first and second graders after a teacher agreed to work with both grades' curricula. "Fortunately, we found three parents that were very excited about the possibility," he said. "It was a very positive thing for the students who were being moved."

He stressed that the school will closely monitor each of the moved first graders' progress to make sure none feels too stressed or frustrated  by the work or the environment. For though the situation appears to work for now, Cluff said, "By no means will we do that just for class size."

[Last modified: Monday, October 11, 2010 3:27pm]


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