Hillsborough board votes to support Amendment 8 on class-size
TAMPA - In one sign of the pressures being felt by districts this fall due to Florida's class-size amendment, the Hillsborough County School Board voted unanimously tonight to support Amendment 8, the Nov. 2 ballot item that would roll the initiative back to last year's levels and modify the current enrollment caps. (Member Carol Kurdell was absent.)
District officials say they have no intention of falling out of compliance with the final phase of the 2002 class-size law, which shifted to its final stage this fall. In fact, they have every intention of winning a share of the state reward money for being in total compliance -- not one student above the limit. That reward money, estimated at $35 million for Hillsborough, would be drawn from the penalties non-complying districts must pay.
Still, no one was talking about rewards or penalties at today's school board meeting. Officials focused on the student schedule changes, transportation costs, new construction, and other hassles incurred by the law. And Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association president Jean Clements didn't budge from her union's insistence that the class-size amendment has been good for kids.
"Our constitution calls for a free and adequately funded education," Clements said. "Had the legislature ever done that, this constitutional amendment would never have come up."
For more details and updates on this developing story, read tomorrow's St. Petersburg Times or return to the Gradebook at tampabay.com.