Janssen: Pinellas needs more fundamental schools, more class size flexibility
The Pinellas school district will continue to increase the number of seats in fundamental schools as long as parents keep demanding them, superintendent Julie Janssen said this afternoon. More specifically, she said the district will look at the demand for high school fundamental seats to see whether another high school needs a fundamental program to complete the lone existing program at Osceola High.
"If we have enough to start another program at another high school, we will do that," Janssen told members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club. "We're going from a scarcity model to a supply and demand model. I really believe we need to give our families what they're asking for."
On class size reduction, though, Janssen suggested the research doesn't back up the expense. The 2002 class size amendment passed by overwhelming margins, despite research that suggests the academic benefits from modest (but hugely expensive) reductions in class sizes are minimal.
"One of the things that has really hurt us is the amount of money we have put into building classrooms because of the class size amendment," she said in response to a question about how the Legislature could help the district. "I'm not sure there are any statistics out there that says 25 students in the class yields much higher student success than 30 students in the class. And because we're going to classroom by classroom (caps) next year, it's devastating."
Janssen told the Gradebook after her appearance that she would support legislative efforts to replace the classroom caps with a schoolwide average. "That's a help," she said. "I'd prefer they put something on the ballot that is anything but classroom by classroom (caps)."