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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Lawmakers seek to slow school-grades revamp



The state Board of Education this week voted in favor of a dramatic (and controversial) revamp of Florida's school grading formula.

But lawmakers want to slow down the train.

In a surprise move on Friday, members of the Senate PreK-12 Education Budget Conference Committee proposed delaying the plan by one year.

“As far as I can see, the ramifications of it have not been thoroughly analyzed,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.

School districts had raised strong opposition to the new grading formula, saying it would dramatically increase the number of failing schools. In response, the state Board of Education watered down the formula, but ultimately decided to move forward.

Simmons worried that having more F schools might discourage businesses from coming to Florida. He also expressed concern about the effect on property values –- and on morale in schools and communities.

“I have thought that you never make someone a champ by calling them a chump,” Simmons said.

Simmons wants one of the budget bills to include language that puts the plan on hold.

There seems to be support on the House side.

"It's the responsible thing to do," said Rep. Martin Kiar, D-Davie. "There seems to be a lot of opposition about concern about how it would be carried out."

The PreK-12 Education Budget Conference Committee will meet again at noon to hash out the details.

There's no official word from state education officials yet. Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson was in the Capitol Friday morning.

[Last modified: Friday, March 2, 2012 10:32am]


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