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Legislators debate changing class-size restrictions

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Updated: 1/15 9:26 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County schools face multimillion-dollar fines because classrooms are too crowded, and now the legislature is now getting involved.

State standards could soon get a lot leaner when it comes to the number of kids allowed in a classroom.

"It would eliminate a lot of the logistical nightmares that we go through in making class size," said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.

A Florida House subcommittee voiced support Tuesday for new legislation that would relax the penalties for districts missing the mark on class size compliance.

"Instead of penalizing schools based on the number of classes that are out of compliance and therefore students, it would base the penalty on classes or number of students that are above the school average," Vitti said.

A constitutional amendment went into effect in 2002 limiting kindergarten through third grade classes to 18 students. Grades four through eight are capped at 22 and nine through 12 can have 25.

This year, Duval County has been slapped with a $2.8 million fine by the state for the number of overcrowded classrooms. According to the district, 1,075 classrooms are out of compliance.

"There's one teacher in there, sometimes they have a para-professional, but most of the time it's one teacher so it's a lot to control," said Lynn Green.

She said her grandchildren's classrooms are overstuffed, too. And she thinks that is hindering their learning.

"You can't spend the time that you need to with the children when there's only one person with that many children," she said.

Vitti said he would make sure classrooms are capped to prohibit the numbers from getting too high.

And the district also appealed the current penalty. If approved, the fine will be dropped to $700,000.

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gordon - 1/15/2014 10:08 PM
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Although there is a fine for overcrowding, don't feel sorry for the school system. Feel concern for the students. Schools receive funding based on enrollment. Higher enrollment = more money. If the class is overcrowed with only one teacher the cost of teachers is less per student. So a school system is cutting cost by overcrowding. The real issue here is what is happening to the additions funds. Administation cost?
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