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Florida gubernatorial candidates back proposed class size amendment
TALLAHASSEE, Florida: Four gubernatorial candidates announced last week that they support the proposed class size amendment, also known as a Amendment 8. Supporting candidates include Democrat Alex Sink, Independent Bud Chiles and Republicans Attorney General Bill McCollum and Rick Scott. The proposed amendment is scheduled to appear on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot, along with nine other measures.
Specifically the measure would amend Section 1 of Article IX and create Section 31 of Article XII in the Florida State Constitution. Revisions would amend class size requirements for public schools and provide an effective date. At least 60 percent of voters must approve the measure in order pass the measure. However, if the measure is defeated, class caps will remain as previously scheduled and classes would be required to meet those caps: 18 students in kindergarten through third grade; 22 students in fourth through eighth; and 25 students in ninth through 12th.
Sen. Stephen Wise, chair of the Senate Education Appropriations Committee, described the proposed amendment as a "necessity" financially. "When it comes down to it, the amendment sounded good until you have to do it. Principals know that. And I don’t know of a principal I’ve spoken to who couldn’t do with some extra flexibility," said Wise. However, opponents, including the Florida Education Association, argue that voters were clear in 2002 when they voted to reduce class sizes. Rep. Bill Heller said, "I really do feel that class size is the right thing for children. We have it. It's in the constitution and we ought to maintain it."