In 2002, Floridians voted to place limits on the number of students per classroom in our state. These limits were to be measured starting at the district level, then moving to the school level and finally to the individual classroom level. Though we've made great progress at the first two levels, the final phase has significant unintended consequences that would have adverse effects on the lives of our students.
The rigidity of the final phase takes vital flexibility out of the hands of our teachers and principals who manage the learning environments of our children.
As it stands today, the class size requirements are forcing school districts throughout the state to consider rezoning their schools, significantly reducing elective courses and busing students over extended distances. Even schools within the class size limits are not safe. When a student moves to a county midyear where the student's new school has reached its class size limit, existing teachers and students will have to be separated in order to accommodate the extra student.
These logistical problems, traumatic for students and teachers alike, were highlighted at Sand Pine Elementary in a recent Times story. Sand Pine had six first-grade classes with exactly 18 students per class (the maximum under current law), until another first-grader moved to town. As a result, Sand Pine is sending letters to parents letting them know their children might switch classrooms or teachers to comply with the class size requirements.
Since 2002, Pasco County has had to build 22 new schools, hire more than 5,700 new teachers, add 187 portables and reduce the number of elective classes to accommodate current class-size law. The intent of the 2002 amendment was to provide the best learning environment for Florida's children. Now that we've kept that promise and reduced class sizes, it's time to take the next step and provide teachers, administrators and districts the flexibility needed to ensure that our children's education is not arbitrarily disrupted.
Please support Amendment 8 for our students.
Under Amendment 8:
• In prekindergarten through Grade 3, the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in an individual classroom is raised from 18 to 21, but the school average may not exceed 18 students.
• In grades 4-8, the maximum number of students who may be assigned to each teacher in an individual classroom is raised from 22 to 27, but the school average may not exceed 22 students.
• In high school, the maximum number of students who may be assigned to each teacher in an individual classroom is raised from 25 to 30, but the school average may not exceed 25 students.
Florida Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey, represents District 46 in the state House of Representatives.