Florida Legislature Revises Maximum Class Size Bill

The Florida House of Representatives has added House Bill 149 to its calendar. Florida-voter imposed law, HB 149, is an alternate revision to the state’s current class size laws.

According to the 2010 Florida House of Representatives Staff Analysis, the original Class Size Reduction Amendment required that classes did not exceed 18 students for pre-kindergarten through third grade; 22 students for fourth through eighth grade; and 25 students for ninth through 12th grades, yet this only includes core classes. The initial amendment left Advanced placement class sizes filled with almost 70 students in some Florida schools.

Section 1003.03(4)(a), F.S., of the Florida House Staff Analysis specifically requires a reduction of funding from schools that do not oblige to the revisions. Up to 25 percent of the funds received from the reduction will be reallocated to districts that meet class size requirements.

The remaining balance will be restored to schools that have submitted a certified plan to the commissioner by Feb. 1 of each year even if they are not in compliance.

A few school board members, like Broward County’s Robin Bartleman, disagreed with the possibility of a student cap in advancement placement classes, in fear that it may impact students’ chances for college enrollment.

"The minute I get a phone call from a parent and I'm told that they can't fit a child into an AP class because of class size, I'm going to tell them they should call a lawyer,'' Bartleman told Sun Sentinel. "It's absolutely unfair because they are all competing to get into the same colleges."

The Florida House of Representatives states HB 149 will provide a categorical allocation reduction to school average when maximum class size requirements are not met. The bill will also provide for the expenditure of funds and will requires that the updated district plan be posted to each district’s website.  

According to the Courier Journal. Jefferson County public schools teacher Susan McClain said the problems revolve around class size.

"The answer to all our problems revolves around class size. That’s a simple fix that would solve a lot of costly problems," McClain said.

Tallahassee residents, like Tallahassee Community College student Romona Pierre, also agreed that the cap be applied to advanced placement classes.

“AP class sizes should be reduced to a smaller quantity so that there’s a more even ratio between the teacher and the student,” Pierre said. “Students could learn the material more easily. If there’s less students in the (classroom), the curriculum isn’t as hard when you don’t have as many people trying to learn. Everyone learns differently.”