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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

With loophole in place, few Florida schools over class size caps



Tiny percentages of Florida's public school classrooms exceeded constitutional class size caps in the October 2015 count, according to recently released data.

The numbers could have been very different, though, if not for a statutory loophole that some lawmakers are seeking to close. It allows schools that districts designate as "schools of choice" to use schoolwide class size averages rather than classroom counts. 

Intended for schools that offer innovative programs and added options for students, such as magnet schools, the program has become a go-to label for districts to avoid the toughest class size measure and the penalties that come for missing the mark. Last year, nearly two-thirds of all public schools carried the designation, which Sen. John Legg and others have called a misuse of the model.

The numbers are further affected by other legislative changes, such as the removal of several courses including Advanced Placement from the definition.

The latest data indicates:

- 170 full-time students in "schools of choice" were over their cap, mostly in K-3 classes and at just 20 schools.

- 1,345 classes at all grade levels in "traditional" schools, or less than 1 percent, were over the cap.

- 45 charter schools, nearly half of which were in Broward County, exceeded their class size limits.

The violators face penalties, and must submit compliance plans, unless they can win an appeal. Appeals are due by Dec. 18.

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 12:29pm]


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