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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

House passes class-size amendment measure

17

April

After about 45 minutes of debate, the House this morning approved Wesley Chapel Republican Will Weatherford's proposal to ask voters to loosen the class-size mandate.

The House vote was 78-41, with three Democrats joining Republicans in the yay camp: Rep. Leonard Bembry, D-Madison; Rep. Debbie Boyd, D-High Springs; and Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek. Republican Ray Sansom missed the vote.

A proposed constitutional amendment requires a three-fifths vote of both chambers. The measure is due to be heard in a Senate committee Monday.

"I don’t view this as class-size repeal," Weatherford said. "It is merely making it better. It is taking a good idea and making it workable."

HJR919 puts a constitutional amendment on the 2010 ballot that halts class-size compliance at the school average, while raising the maximum number of students per classroom. That means:

• PreK to third grade: Classroom maximum goes to 21, but school average is 18

• Grades 4-8: Classroom maximum goes to 27, but school average is 22

• Grades 9-12: Classroom maximum goes to 30, but school average is 25 

Democrat after Democrat argued in debate that the measure threatens school funding, will repeal all the learning gains and defies the will of voters who put class size into the Constitution with a 2002 vote.

"Let's be honest," said Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg. "This isn't just about flexibility, it's about funding."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 8:37pm]

    

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