In 2002 when the class size reduction amendment was approved, money wasn't an issue and neither was class size. But now, eight years later, there's no money and too many students, creating a major problem, especially for those enrolling this fall.
Leon High School Principal Rocky Hanna and his staff are busy crunching numbers. The last phase of the class size reduction amendment says each core class can have a maximum of 25 students in each classroom.
"When you have classes, a class that maybe 30 kids have requested. So do I tell five kids I'm sorry, you'll have to take a different class. Or do I create two sections, two sections of 15?" asked Hanna.
But creating more sections, means more money, thousands of dollars to be exact. That's something Hanna says they simply don't have.
Another option would be to cut an elective course, like culinary arts, and have that teacher change subjects. "It would be difficult when you're not certified. You don't have the background and the knowledge to teach a class to do a good job of it. It would be learn as you go, teach it the best you can. But I would not be as effective as a person certified in science of course," said Karen Watson, a culinary arts high school teacher.
One possible solution to reducing class size numbers is to have students take core classes through virtual schools. Hanna just sent a letter to parents saying computer labs will be available for students enrolled in these classes.
"There's not a class cap for a virtual class. So I could put 40 or 50 classes in a computer lab or in several computer labs and they can take classes online. That's our only answer as of now," explained Hanna.
And it's more than just sizing down a class to 25 students, Hanna has to do it for more than than 350 core classes at Leon High.
There is a chance to loosen the class size amendment, but that's on the November ballot, which is months after the start of fall semester. And schools will actually be evaluated in October to make sure they meet these mandates. If they don't, they'll be fined significantly for each student they're over.
"Voters had good intentions back in 2002, times were good. It shows the dangers of amending a document like the Constitution of the State of Florida. It may look good on the surface, but you don't know the economic climate for the future. And we just can't afford it, or at least according to the legislature, they just can't afford it," said Hanna.
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