I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Florida Class Size Compliance Penalty--Out Comes the Hammer!

Some agreed with the 2002 Class Size Amendment, others fought against it.  We all know it passed and the final phase of compliance comes up beginning this fall.  Florida has spent more than $16 Billion dollars in the last eight years to make compliance possible.

Taxpayers want to see districts comply with the law.  The law is the law-regardless of what our personal opinions may be.

Districts are required to be in compliance come the first day of classes this fall--those that are not will be penalized.  I have heard that many districts will in fact meet the requirement--perhaps as many as 50% of the districts.

Others I have spoken with guess that it will be just a handful of districts. 

Some say no districts will comply.  Who knows what will happen?

I am hopeful Escambia County will be in compliance.  We have spent our class size categorical dollars wisely, we are told, and so the test comes in September.  This item will be discussed in detail at the next school board workshop meeting in May.

Initially, the "count"  for district compliance was not to occur until February 2011.  Then the veto of SB6 happened, and the date for the "count" moved ahead. (coincidence?)

The legislature changed this timeline in the last days of the session, and the student "count" will now be done in October.  Districts will not be able to glide through to the holidays, hoping that the voters will pass the ballot measure to ease class size.

As it stands now, districts will have to start the year in compliance or face a financial penalty.

The ballot initiative to ease class size is widely expected to fail in November;  getting 60% of the electorate to agree with the rationale will be difficult-especially with the statewide teacher's union staunchly opposed to any deviation from the classroom level "hard count".

Parents and the voters who approved the initial class size mandate like small classes, and they will rail against passage of the amendment.   The union will put the full-court press on to defeat the initiative.  NSBA and others will attempt to support (weakly)-- the passage of the ballot measure--so, my prediction-- initiative fails.

Class size reduction compliance will be determined in the October F.T.E. student count and will be measured against the current Constitutional requirement

1. Districts that fail to comply will lose the applicable value of the class size reduction categorical and 50% of the B.S.A. (Base Student Allocation) times the district D.C.D. (District Cost ifferential--.949)for each out of compliance full time equivalent student.

2. Funds from the penalty will be redistributed to school districts. First, districts in compliance will receive an adjustment based on the number of students in the district and the base student allocation up to an amount equal to five percent of the districts base F.E.F.P. allocation.

3. If there are funds available after this distribution the balance of the funds will be redistributed back to the districts that are out of compliance contingent upon the district submitting a detailed plan to come into compliance. No more than 25% of the penalty funds can be distributed to in compliance districts, therefore out of compliance district will have from 75% - 100% of their funds returned. Current projections using 2009-2010 student data and 2010-2011 class size reduction requirements show no districts in compliance. That would mean 100% of the district funds would be returned to the out of compliance districts.

4. If the Constitutional amendment passes, the compliance penalty remains the same, and is applied to the new requirement.

The next few months will be economically painful.

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