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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida education leaders continue discussion on class size penalties



As Florida schools scramble to reassign teachers following their 20-day counts, trying to come as close to meeting class size rules as possible, some key state education leaders are still talking about how to mute the mandate.

State Board of Education vice chairman Roberto Martinez on Tuesday said he's still bothered that districts face financial penalties for failing to miss the mark, even if they've tried to comply within the realm of financial and academic realities. "Have you all considered any suggestions?" Martinez asked Ron Blocker, the Orange County superintendent who's also president of the state's superintendents association.

"There should be some reasonable floating continuum that does not prevent you from doing your job," Blocker responded. "Ideally, we would like to have a school-wide average. But we understand" that's unlikely to happen.

He said superintendents would like to work with the board to craft proposed new rules that meet the 2002 constitutional amendment. He noted that elected superintendents, who are constitutional officers, find themselves in a bind if they cannot comply with the requirements because they lack classrooms, or teachers, or other solutions.

Martinez suggested this might be a subject to bring up to the Legislature as it resumes. Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan noted that the commissioner already has some leeway to waive some of the fines, and that more investigation might be necessary.

Voters already shot down lawmakers' effort to relax the restrictions in 2010, leading the Legislature to then remove hundreds of courses from the list to which class size regulations apply. Any thoughts as to what else might happen to class size rules this year?

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 3:16pm]


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