Education groups support class-size tweak
Attorney Ron Meyer, representing the Florida School Boards Association and Florida Education Association, said any push for a new constitutional amendment on class size should be accompanied by a push for a statutory fix.
Meyer said voter sentiment in favor of smaller classes might make it difficult to get 60 percent support, as required, for passage of a new constitutional amendment. Lawmakers are likely to consider this session a proposed amendment that would freeze class counts at the school level, rather than have compliance be measured at the class-by-class level.
"I think it's going to take a lot of money to change the class-size amendment because of the popularity," Meyer said. "So I think you should have a plan B if the constitutional amendment doesn't pass."
Meyer said former Orlando Rep. David Simmons' proposal a couple of years ago to have counts done just once in the fall was a good statutory fix that had support in the House yet never got traction in the Senate. Groups like the FEA and school boards association are poised to push for a repeat of that proposal, which seemed to get good reception in the Senate's PreK-12 budget committee Thursday morning.
"It would make sense to have that running as a parallel course to any attempt at a constitutional fix," Meyer said. "I don't think anyone disagrees with the notion that there should be flexibility in how schools reduce their class sizes."
How far does the state need to go to meet the class-size amendment? Well, a new simulation by the Florida Department of Education states that 234,611 classrooms would be out of compliance in a class-by-class count.