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Pasco schools cope with class size issues



Soon after the 20-day student counts were complete, Pasco school district leaders huddled to figure out whether they needed to make adjustments to meet Florida's class-size reduction mandate.

With teacher allocations tight and student enrollment a bit better than expected in some schools, the situation was clear: Some schools weren't even making a school average for class-size. (Among them, Wiregrass Ranch High, Gulf High, Smith Middle, Hudson Middle and a bunch of elementary schools.)

The recommended answer is to shift resources to get more teachers into those schools. That proposal goes to the School Board on Tuesday.

But is it the right approach?

Some principals suggest that with classes already well under way, the disruption of adding teachers and splitting classes might not be worth it.

"A good teacher with a few extra students is better than a brand new teacher coming in nine weeks into the school year who has to pick up where the other teachers left off," Wiregrass Ranch principal Ray Bonti said. He noted that in the past, students have been reluctant to go to new teachers when classes have been split.

And if that's the case now, what happens next year, when the amendment requires classroom counts? Will it be better to have any teacher in the classroom than a good teacher with a few extra students?

School district officials around Florida are pondering that question, too, as they worry about how they can afford to fully implement the voter mandate.

"Without some additional revenue from the state, we're not sure if we're going to make it," Pasco assistant superintendent Tina Tiede said.

Thoughts, anyone?


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