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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco schools struggle to meet class size mandate



Pasco County schools -- particularly at the elementary level -- are having trouble keeping up with the district's efforts to meet Florida's class size requirements, officials told the School Board this week.

"We continue to struggle as we try to meet that in October," superintendent Heather Fiorentino said.

Full compliance is key for the district, which faces a $4 million fine for failing to have all its classrooms below the state-approved level a year ago. The board approved adding more than 100 teaching jobs this year toward ensuring the district meets the mark, which in turn would reduce that fine to about $1 million.

Even with the new hires, though, achieving that goal is proving difficult, assistant superintendent David Scanga said. 

"Just our mobility alone makes it difficult," he said, noting that a school might be in compliance one day and then off the following day as kids come and go. Classes are being disrupted as schools try to keep numbers at the approved levels, he said, but "the idea of making the actual numbers is really a challenge."

It's not quite as bad in middle and high schools, assistant superintendent Tina Tiede said, because student schedules are more easily adjusted. However, she added, some students and parents are complaining that they are not able to enroll in their preferred classes. Students also are being encouraged to go into online courses, which has led some parents to call School Board members.

The district is evaluating its 20-day count from earlier this week, and plans to begin a concerted attempt to reallocate teachers to where they are most needed. Students could see their classes change as a result. Many schools sent letters home to parents earlier this year advising them that this might happen.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:59am]


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