Lawmakers to discuss class size amendment

Schools running into problems with class sizes and penalties

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Tuesday morning, lawmakers in Tallahassee will meet to discuss issues that affect how many students are in your child's public school classroom.

Ten years ago, voters in Florida approved an amendment that set limits on the number of students in core classes.

But since the Class Size Reduction Amendment was implemented in 2010, school districts have run into all kinds of problems and penalties.

Representative George Moraitis is from South Florida. There's been a host of problems associated with the penalties schools face if they don't meet class size requirements. He said he doesn't want to change the requirement, but does want to change how schools are penalized.

It's meant to limit the student to teacher ratio, and provide public school students a more hands-on education. But the Class Size Reduction Amendment has become a budget headache for administrators and school district officials trying to comply statewide.

Colleen wood/founder of 50th no more :34 "Class size is actually not fully funded by our legislature. So they don't give our districts enough money to meet the law as it is written, and then they financially penalize them for not meeting the law. It's kind of ridiculous. And pretty much every parent understands that," said Colleen Wood, founder of 50th No More.

Voters approved the amendment which states a maximum of 18 kids per Pre-K classroom through the third grade, 22 students per class in grades four through eight and 25 students in grades nine through 12.

If schools don't comply, they're fined. Duval County paid a penalty of $1.7 million for violations with the 2012 count.

"What parents want to know is that it's our children's success that's being put first and not politics trying to game a system that was set up for failure to begin with. The way class size is structured right now, it's not good for kids. The way this penalty rule is written," said Wood.

Representative Moraitis proposed a bill aimed to lessen the financial burden placed on non-compliant schools. He's a big supporter of charter schools which have to abide by class size but are penalized differently than public schools when the requirement isn't met. He said he's looking to even the playing field.

"Right now the penalty is computed by looking at every single class in the school, and then taking the number of students and giving a multiplier to that, and then giving a penalty. Instead of looking at maybe - you know - some classes are below, some classes are above and averaging it out to determine a penalty," said Moraitis.

The House Choice and Innovation Subcommitee will take up Representative Moraitis' proposal at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning in Tallahassee.

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