Counting class size: Florida House bill would give school districts breathing room
Florida voters likely will get the chance to scale back the state's 2002 class size reduction amendment at the polls in November.
School district officials have urged lawmakers to let them delay implementation of the final phase -- class-by-class counts -- until after the voters have spoken. That way, if schoolwide averages stick, the districts won't have spent millions of dollars putting into effect rules that no longer hold.
Senate education appropriations leaders signaled their dislike of such an approach, saying the amendment clearly states that the classroom counts begin on July 1, 2010. The House education appropriations committee seems to be looking in another direction.
The House committee's latest bill, set for hearing Tuesday, would have the state take a head count for class size in February. That's after a November election would determine whether districts need to rezone, hire and take other steps to meet the final stage of the amendment.
Headed for a showdown with the Senate? Perhaps. But Sen. Don Gaetz, sponsor of the effort to put the amendment back before the voters, doesn't see this is a major stumbling block. Because in the bigger scheme of things, he said, any person who counts too many kids in a classroom can "take it to the courthouse" any day of the week -- not just on some arbitrary date set for counting by the state.
The House and Senate leadership agree "exactly to the semicolon" that the best course of action is to pass Senate Bill 2, Gaetz said. Everything else will sort out from there.