THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA: Class size amendment passes Education Policy Council

Mar 26, 2009

A proposed constitutional amendment to adjust a constitutional class size requirement cleared another hurdle Wednesday afternoon, winning approval from the Education Policy Council. But not without some fireworks from the council’s Democrats.

Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie, attempted to kill the resolution put forth by Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, that would amend the constitution to make the class size provision more flexible.

Current law would allow no more than 18 students per class in grades PreK through third, no more than 22 in grades four through eight, and no more than 25 in grades nine through 12, by the start of the 2010 school year.

The amendment approved by the PreK-12 Education Policy Committee on Tuesday asks voters to alter the constitution by allowing schools to meet average classroom size requirements per grade, instead of holding them to a stricter standard – per-classroom limits – that the state law currently requires. Kiar proposed an amendment to Weatherford’s measure that would require the schools to meet those caps at the begining of the year, but give them flexibility to exceed those caps later in the school year.

Kiar said by staying true to the original constitutional provision approved in 2002, the Legislature would be required to keep giving more dollars to schools. Without that mandate, Kiar said he feared schools would receive fewer and fewer funds.

“I really don’t have the faith in this Legislature to fund education because it doesn’t,” Kiar said.

Kiar’s proposal was immediately shot down by a Republican majority and called “half-baked” by Weatherford.