Right Sizing Class Size Challenged

A Florida teachers union is trying to block a ballot initiative that aims to loosen class size requirements. The state legislature put the amendment on the ballot saying the last phase of class size is too restrictive. But, the Florida Education Association is asking a judge to kick it off the ballot, saying the issue is funding and the ballot language doesn’t mention dollars.

There’s only one open seat in Chemistry at Leon High School in Tallahassee. Strict class size requirements written into the state constitution cap high school classes at 25 students.

So if Principle Rocky Hanna gets two new students mid-year who need Chemistry, he has to tell one to take a hike. “We are out of luck here. There’s just no room”

Last year schools could meet class size requirements based on averages. Now they must meet the requirements individually. Hanna says the strictest phase comes on top of two straight years of budget cuts. “I had to lay off 10 teaching units last year. My secretary hasn’t had a raise in five years… I’m going to have to write her a check out of my own pocket.”

And with no money to hire new teachers, administrators are having to get creative. Here’s what it’s come to. More than 200 students at Leon High school have to take courses online because there’s no room in the classes.”

There is a legislative ballot initiative to ease class size restrictions, but Mark Pudlow with the Florida Education Association says the proposed amendment is really about money, not helping schools. The legislature says this is about flexibility but it’s really about funding, and the cut backs they’ve made in the education budget.”

While many administrators agree with the teachers union, they’re supporting the legislature’s fix, because they expect more budget cuts next year.

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  • by debbyarr Location: pc on Sep 9, 2010 at 06:30 AM
    The people of Florida already voted on this issue.
  • by onemorevoter Location: pc on Sep 8, 2010 at 08:33 PM
    The ones who are against this class size restrictions always give the argument that if they have one student who wants to take something, they wouldn't be able to. However, the voters of Florida passed this amendment because it was never about one extra student in a class - the schools were overcrowding every classroom to save money. Don't blame the unions, the people of Florida already voted on this issue and the politicians don't want to fund education. The politicians took money out of the budget for education when we passed having the lottery fund education. The lottery was supposed to be extra money for education not in place of money already budgeted for schools. If the politicians put the money back into education that was budgeted before the lottery money came along, there wouldn't be any problem with funding for smaller class sizes.
  • by Brian Location: Panama City on Sep 8, 2010 at 03:31 PM
    Not even letting the citizens vote? Reason #435 to let unions go the way of the dinosaur...corrupt, bloated, inefficient relics of times past.
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