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Haitian Class Size Problems

February 19th, 2010 by flanews

Florida lawmakers are worried students arriving from Haiti could bankrupt local school districts. 23-hundred have already enrolled, and more are coming. As Whitney Ray tells us, even if the feds chip in, they probably wont give enough to help schools meet strict class size requirements.

The final phase of the class size requirements goes into effect next school year, but principals fear they wont have the money to meet the mandate.

Were up against some serious financial challenges, said Rocky Hanna, Principal of Leon High School.

Adding to the financial fiasco, hundreds of new Haitian students fleeing their earthquake ravaged land. 23-hundred are already here, with an estimated 200 arriving daily.

We are having to dip into our reserves right now to pay for those additional students, said Wayne Blanton, President of the Florida School Boards Association.

Most of the new students are enrolling in South Florida schools, but once commercial fights to Haiti pick back up other areas are likely to see a larger increase.

Lawmakers began discussing the problem this week. No one knows how many new students will be enrolled next August when stricter class size requirements go into effect.

There is no money in our districts to build new schools, so if we need now new class rooms I think it is a federal issue, said State Senator Nan Rich.

State officials are expecting federal help in May to cover the cost of teaching the new students, but theres no word on whether Washington will send money to build new classrooms.

State lawmakers are pushing a constitutional amendment that would allow schools to meeting class size requirements based on school wide averages, but voters will have to sign off on the deal in November, three months after the stricter rules go into effect.

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