Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas school board agrees to join lawsuit over class size

LARGO — Pinellas County School Board members voted 5-2 Tuesday to join a lawsuit to stop the state from penalizing school districts that don't comply with class size laws in the coming school year.

Though the district plans to comply with the law this fall by absorbing $14.4 million in costs related to meeting class caps, board members said the action sends a signal to legislators that they aren't holding up their end of the deal by providing adequate funding to fulfill the law.

"I think right is right, and I think the Legislature needs to understand that they need to honor what the people actually voted on," board member Carol Cook said.

The board agreed to pay Tallahassee law firm Meyer, Brooks, Demma and Blohm, PA, a $1,500 retainer to be a part of the suit. Pinellas board attorney Jim Robinson told board members they could pull out at any time.

Beginning with the first day of school, districts will be required to meet class caps of 18 in prekindergarten through third grade, 23 in grades four through eight and 25 in high school.

Financial penalties that could total millions of dollars would go from school districts not in compliance to ones in compliance.

In Pinellas, students attending schools where classes have reached their limit could be reassigned to schools where there is room. Or the enrollment of a new student could force a school to suddenly create a new class.

Until now, districts have had the flexibility to comply with the law by meeting schoolwide and district averages.

And though voters are expected to go to the polls Nov. 2 to decide whether to repeal the 2002 class size amendment, Pinellas superintendent Julie Janssen said the district is planning as if nothing will change. Other districts that have agreed to sue are Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, Robinson told the board.

Board members Robin Wikle and Mary Brown voted no because they have concerns about the financial prudence of the move and other unanswered questions.

In other action, the board held its first public hearing on the district's 2010-11 budget and voted unanimously to adopt the tentative $1.35 billion budget pending its second public hearing on Sept. 14. The board also voted unanimously to set the property tax rate at $8.34 for every $1,000 of taxable property value, down from $8.35 last year. That means, the owner of a home with a taxable value of $175,000 would pay $1,459.50, or $1.05 less than a home with the same taxable value last year.

Pinellas school board agrees to join lawsuit over class size 07/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays set to activate Tommy Hunter from DL

    Blogs

    The Rays plan to activate RHP Tommy Hunter from the DL for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

  2. Reporter says Republican candidate in Montana body-slammed him (w/video)

    Nation

    HELENA, Mont. — Witnesses said the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat body-slammed a reporter Wednesday, the day before the polls close in the nationally watched special election. Authorities said late Wednesday that Greg Gianforte has been cited for misdemeanor assault over incident with …

    Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont., in March. [Associated Press]
  3. Culpepper falls just short on 'Survivor' finale

    Human Interest

    In the end, Tampa lawyer Brad Culpepper fell just short, and the ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer lost Survivor: Game Changers and the $1 million prize to Sarah Lacina, a police officer from Iowa.

  4. Families dispute claims that slain Tampa Palms roommates shared neo-Nazi beliefs

    Crime

    TAMPA — Andrew Oneschuk never liked making small talk on the phone, his father said, but the last time the two spoke, something seemed off.

    Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman lived in a Tampa Palms apartment with Devon Arthurs and Brandon Russell. Oneschuk and Himmelman reportedly planned to move out.
  5. Brad Culpepper makes it to final 3 on Survivor, but jury picks Sarah

    The Feed

    UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Tampa's Brad Culpepper make it to the final 3 on Survivor, but jurors chose Sarah as the winner of the $1 million.

    Original report follows:

    "The Tables Have Turned" - Brad Culpepper, Tai Trang and Hali Ford on the fourth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment