In November 2002, Florida voters approved an Oct. 15, 2010 deadline for Florida school districts to comply with class size limits.
The Sun-Sentinel reports:
The class schedules of about 11,000 students will change in the next two weeks as the Broward School District scrambles to hire more than 400 teachers to meet new class-size limits.
District administrators plan to hire 171 elementary teachers, 83 middle school and 148 high school teachers during a job fair Tuesday in Davie. Hiring the new educators, who will mainly teach core classes such as English, math and reading, will allow class sizes to shrink. But it means some students must switch teachers more than halfway through the first grading period of the school year.
Article IX of the Florida Constitution states that “the legislature shall make adequate provision to ensure that, by the beginning of the 2010 school year, there are a sufficient number of classrooms” so the number of students in a public school classroom from pre-kindergarten through grade 3 does not exceed 18 students; from grades 4 through 8 does not exceed 22 students; and grades 9 through 12 does not exceed 25 students.
The Sun-Sentinel adds:
Broward will spend about $70 million to meet the class-size targets — money it didn’t have until about two weeks ago when it approved an increase in property taxes as part of its $3.4 billion budget.
Without the $33.4 million generated by the tax hike, the board was willing to accept up to $35.9 million in penalties for failing to comply with new class-size limits. Now, the district is in position to avoid the penalty or pay a significantly smaller one. Still, district officials stop short of making any guarantees.
The situation could change if Amendment 8, on the November ballot, passes.
The Florida PTA, which opposes Amendment 8, explains, “This amendment proposes to revise the current constitution and calculate class size on a school wide average rather than actual class size.”
Supporters of Amendment 8 call this “flexibility.”