New class size calculations could cost Florida school districts millions
Floridians will vote on whether to scale back the 2002 class size amendment in November. If school districts don't comply with the more stringent existing rules by October, though, they face millions in fines.
A new Florida Department of Education simulation (explained in this memo) shows that the state would be out of compliance by 120,995 full-time equivalent students. The penalty would amount to $351.6 million for districts in violation, with the money to be distributed to districts in full compliance.
Just one problem: No districts are in full compliance.
In fact, many are scrambling to figure out how to pay for the final phase of the amendment, which requires individual classrooms not to exceed set student counts. Some school boards have begun laying off non-instructional staff to free money to pay for teachers whom they might not need if the amendment changes win voter approval.
Look for detailed explanations of how each district plans to meet the amendment during budget season. That's required by law. Then decide for yourself whether the money is worth it. To change the law, 60 percent voter approval is required.