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Superintendents keep focus on class size concerns



Eight Florida superintendents including Pasco County's Heather Fiorentino spent the better part of 90 minutes talking to the Senate panel charged with creating the state's public education budget.  Asked what issues needed greater attention, Fiorentino offered up class size.

"We all understand class size is important," she told the senators. "Maybe we can look at a different way of doing the penalties."

Fiorentino, whose district faces $4 million in penalties for noncompliance this year, suggested that the fines might be less if a district meets class size rules as a school average, but fails to get each classroom right.

Chairman Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, asked the others if they agreed this was a major concern. All at the table did.

The problem is the last few students, Duval superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said. "We can come close, but not quite meet it."

In the end, Bay superintendent Bill Husfelt said, "The kids are the ones penalized because they don't get into the classes they need to get into."

Simmons said he could see possibilities in setting larger penalties for districts that do not meet the rules as a school average than for those that try but fail in certain circumstances to make every classroom comply. He asked the superintendents to boil down their recommendations on class size and other issues, such as extended school year and merit pay, into writing for consideration as the Senate moves closer to completing its budget proposal.

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