Class Size Penalties Headed to Legislature

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL - Thirty-five of Florida’s 67 school districts couldn’t hire enough teachers to meet class size requirements written into the state constitution.

Hillsborough County was the largest school district able to meet class size and it wasn’t easy.

“It took incredible time and commitment by the staff in every school and at the district level, and a constant review of what was happening in every classroom,” said Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

Palm Beach, Broward, Miami and 32 other districts weren’t so fortunate. The state board of education wants them to pay 30 million dollars in fines. Half of those belong to Palm Beach. The fines were lowered by 10 million dollars after districts appealed the penalties.

“If a district was able to present a compelling case that showed they had a surge in enrollment or enrollment shift that couldn’t be accounted for in advance then we made adjustments to that,” said Education Commissioner Eric Smith.

The revised fines now head to the legislature for final approval. But some districts may not wait on the legislature and instead take the state to court.

The state is required to adequately fund education. Many believe that half the districts out of compliance with class size is proof the state isn’t doing it’s job.

A legislative committee will begin reviewing the fines in mid-February. The penalties will be finalized by the end of April. Districts that met class size will be awarded five percent of the penalty money. The rest of the cash will be given back to the districts that come up with a solid plan to meet class size next year.

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  • by In Education Location: Florida on Jan 19, 2011 at 04:08 PM
    The state has been providing districts with extra money to get ready for the current class size requirements for quite some time now, and districts have had several years to prepare. It was a challenge, but not an impossible task.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 19, 2011 at 05:40 AM
    Mr. Thompson - excellent point. Another example of government without intelligence. Times are tough and we have to make due with what we have. If the child wants to learn and the parents pitch in - they will learn.
  • by Franklin Thompson Location: Tallahassee on Jan 19, 2011 at 03:11 AM
    Oh, I forgot, someone fire Eric Smith, the Commissioner of 'Education'. Who does he think pays the fines he wants to levy? Taxpayers, of course.
  • by Franklin Thompson Location: Tallahassee on Jan 19, 2011 at 03:08 AM
    We have to somehow, get the population to realize that this amendment to Florida's Constitution was a really bad idea and is heavily supported by the teacher's unions, thus the primary reason it's a bad idea.
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