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Dade County schools want state road money

Dade County parents tired of crowded classrooms and futile requests for new schools think they've found the perfect way to pay for them: the state roads budget.

Members of Dade's school advisory councils propose taking 10 percent of the Department of Transportation's $3.1-billion budget each year.

The Council of Advisory Committees hopes to gather 3-million signatures on a statewide petition to present to the Legislature.

Never mind that neither Gov. Lawton Chiles nor lawmakers like the idea, said Roger Gordon, chairman of the council's subcommittee on overcrowding.

"If the Legislature was going to do something, it would already have done it," he said.

A Chiles spokeswoman, April Herrle, said the governor could not support simply shifting money from one department to another.

Dade schools have seen 40 percent growth in the past 10 years, adding 10,000 new students each year since 1985. Average class sizes are between 26 and 31, but many classes have 40. Some teachers share a classroom, with as many as 55 students in the same room at the same time.

Gordon, a financial consultant with two children in public schools, said he has not begun the petition drive. He said he may wait until the school year begins in autumn to start.

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