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Class Size Freeze Headed to the Floor

March 4th, 2010 by flanews

Legislation paving the way for a freeze on the class size amendment is heading to the Senate Floor. If approved by 3/5ths of the legislature, voters would have a chance to reverse the last phase of the class size requirements. As Whitney Ray tells us, even if the legislation gets the votes this spring, the final phase of the class size requirements will still go into effect.

2.5 million people approved the class size amendment in 2002. Thursday a Senate committee voted to over loosen those restrictions.

State Senator Don Gaetz is sponsoring legislation to freeze the class size amendment at its current level where the constitutional requirements are based on a school wide average.

We need to give parents and educators some hope that next year we are not going to be facing many of the difficulties theyve indicated theyd be facing, said Gaetz.

The legislation is a response to fears that requiring each class to meet limits individually will force districts to build more schools and hire more teachers. A common scenario is the third grade class with 18 students.

They argument is you have a 19th kid so you must build a whole nother classroom. Thats not true, said State Senator Dan Gelber.

The flexibility of the current constitutional amendment will be challenged in the Fall, because even if both chambers pass the measure, it wouldnt stop the last phase of the class size amendment from taking effect in August.

The issue would still have to go before the voters in November.

There will probably be some violations of this in August, said Wayne Blanton, president of the Florida School Boards Association.

And those problems could be the best campaign tool supporters of a freeze will have to influence voters.

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