State Bill Could Reduce Fines To Schools For Large Classrooms

Feb 11, 2015

Credit Florida Senate / FLSenate.gov

  Florida’s public schools could get a break on the fines they pay to the state. A bill in the Senate would give schools more flexibility when it comes to the number of kids who can be in a classroom.

A state lawmaker is trying to improve the situation by recalculating how penalties are assessed. The bill would determine average enrollment by using entire schools for averages rather than individual classrooms. This could lessen the burden School Board Chairman Gary Chartrand says is unduly placed on schools.

“When you have eighteen children in a class, and number nineteen shows up, you have two choices: you can take a fine from us or you can hire a new teacher, and that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Chartrand says.

School districts have complained constitutional limits are too restrictive. A few years ago, an effort to repeal the class size amendment failed. Lawmakers have allowed charter schools to use school-wide averages. Senator Rene Garcia’s bill would extend that policy to the rest of the state’s public schools.