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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Taking one more run at the class size amendment



Bennett The way state Sen. Mike Bennett sees Florida's class-size reduction amendment, it's a good idea in theory but not in practice.

"All of the studies show it's not working out the way we thought it would," Bennett, a Bradenton Republican, told the Gradebook. "The costs are out of control. The schools are begging for relief. We didn't give them enough flexibility in it."

There's just not enough lipstick to put on this pig, Bennett suggested. The time has come, he concluded, to "repeal it and start over."

Bennett filed legislation this week to do just that.

He figures that, based on conversations with colleagues, the bill might eke through the Senate, though politics might prevent a two-thirds vote from emerging. "We're certainly going to take a run at it."

Expect the repeal idea, which Senate Education Appropriations chairman Steve Wise deemed a "rogue bill," to have competition.

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, plans to file joint legislation with state Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, to stop the amendment at school averages rather than let it progress to classroom counts, as mandated for next year.

Gaetz expected a complete repeal would be more difficult to achieve with voters than a freeze. But he welcomed Bennett to the debate.

"This session will be our last chance to put some common sense into the class size issue before we all go into an inflexible per-class cap that will hamstring schools and dramatically decrease the amount of money that is available for curriculum and extracurricular activities," Gaetz said.

Lawmakers can talk all they want, he observed. But voters will have the final say. Changing the amendment would require a 60 percent vote.


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:42am]


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