FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thusday, March 25, 2010
Florida Senate passes SJR 2 to "Right Size" Class Size
Proposal Places Amendment to Update Class Size Before Florida Voters
Tallahassee – Today the Florida Senate voted to give local parents and educators limited flexibility in implementing state class size mandates. Senate Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by Senator Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) maintains the class size limits approved by voters in 2002 and allows those limits to continue to be calculated on a school average, as is now the case.
"Since 2002, the people have Florida have invested $16 billion to reduce class sizes. Nearly six thousand new classrooms have been built and 21,000 more teachers have been hired. This bill will maintain all of those gains," according to Senator Gaetz. "What we want to avoid is the forced busing, rezoning, and disruption in student learning that school districts tell us would occur if our local schools are forced to adhere to inflexible, per class caps."
The bill, which passed the Senate by 26 to 12 with Republican and Democratic support, keeps in place the limit of 18 students in K-3 classes, 22 students in grades 4-8, and 25 students in high school core classes. By allowing calculation of class sizes at a school average, a third grade class could have 19 students so long as another third grade class in the same school enrolled no more than 17 students. The bill places limits on averaging to prevent any K-3 classroom from having more than 3 more students or 4-12 classroom from having any more than 5 additional students.
The 2002 mandate scheduled to be fully implemented in the 2010-2011 school year would force classes to be split and a new teacher to be hired if the 19th third grader, 23rd seventh grader or 26th high school student enrolled in a neighborhood school. School officials have testified that would severely disrupt the learning environment and create substantial added cost at a time when local school budgets are already stretched.
Representative Will Weatherford is sponsoring the House companion to SJR 2. If approved by 3/5's of the Legislature, the proposal would go to Florida voters at the November, 2010, general election. Sixty percent of voters must approve any constitutional modification.
For more information about this or any other issue, please contact Senator Don Gaetz, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by letter, 4300 Legendary Drive, Suite 230, Destin, FL 32541or call 1-866-450-4DON toll free from anywhere in Florida.
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