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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

How far should Florida school districts go in pushing ballot measures?



The Pasco County School Board adopted a resolution Tuesday supporting Amendment 8 to relax Florida's class size rules. In so doing, it joined a long list of boards taking a stance on this controversial measure that has less than 40 percent support among voters in several surveys.

The Escambia School board jumped on the train today, holding a press conference to urge voters to back Amendment 8.

Yet when districts including Pasco are asking voters to back a referendum allowing them to continue a local tax for "critical operating needs," they aren't making much noise on the effort. Pasco superintendent Heather Fiorentino told the Gradebook that the law is "very clear" that districts cannot use their resources to tell people how to vote.

Those that go farther face criticism. For instance, the Palm Beach school system is under the gun for letting its principals record and send phone messages urging parents to learn more about that county's proposed critical needs tax referendum. The Palm Beach Post reports that the original script for principals had them asking for support, but the language was changed.

Question: What's the difference between the class size amendment and a referendum asking for permission to consider extending a tax? Why can a board support one openly but the other almost covertly? Should they promote both? Neither? If they don't use tax funds, should this even matter? Let's hear your views.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 2:20pm]


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