Class Overcrowding

Leon County schools are walking a fine line between reducing class size while reducing the number of portables in use, but school officials say downsizing one without the other is virtually impossible.

Buck Lake Elementary is home to more than 800 students, pushing many of the pupils into portables, or cottages as the Bobcats call them.

Hal Pitts, Principal at Buck Lake Elementary, says, "Added six new to campus to accommodate the class size reduction."

One of the effects of the constitutional amendment was a reduction in the overall student capacity of many schools by nearly 25 percent. In the last two years, Bucklake brought in seven portables, defeating a 1997 legislative move to reduce the number of portables in use.

Bill Montford, Superintendent of Leon County Schools, says, "Two are in conflict with one another, on one hand trying to reduce the number of portables, but at the same time adding because of class size reduction."

Yet, most school leaders agree they'd rather have smaller classes in cottages than larger ones in permanent structures.

Hal Pitts adds, "I couldn't imagine if we had to move all these students from our cottages into our main building. Our classes would be huge, not a good educational sound decision."

In the last two years, Leon County has added more than 50 portables to campuses across the district. Leon County has been able to address some of the class size reduction needs and growth with the half a cent sales tax approved by voters in November of 2002.