Sunday, November 7, 2010

Class-size issue shy of required 60 percent

Voters on Tuesday rejected the Florida Legislature's attempt to loosen the state's class-size rules.

The measure that would scale back the strictest part of a constitutional amendment approved in 2002 had 55 percent of the vote with about 90 percent of precincts reporting. But it needed 60 percent to pass.

The Florida Legislature last spring voted to put Amendment 8 on the 2010 ballot. The Legislature's Republican leaders said the current rules were too rigid and expensive, and many administrators and school board members agreed.

Amendment 8 would have deleted the current caps that limit how many students can be in any "core" class — language arts, math, science and social studies. Instead, it would have allowed class sizes to be calculated as a school average.

The current law demands that there be no more than 18 students in the earliest grades, no more than 22 in fourth- to eighth-grade classes, and no more than 25 in high-school courses.

Those rules have been phased in since 2003, but school districts struggled this fall to meet the final caps because the Legislature did not provide the estimated $350 million needed to phase them in.

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