Class size amendment passes

By Jessica Fashant |

Because of the cut in school funding, many local schools have seen larger class sizes.

Florida voters voted in the class size amendment in 2002. It sets limits by class size, depending on the grade level.

According to Beverly Slough, a member of the St. Johns County School Board, the class size amendment would set the maximum for Kindergarten through third grade at 18 students, fourth to eighth grade at 22 students and high school core classes at 25 students.

Gary Techentien is a high school English teacher who has seen classes range anywhere from 25 to 33 students.

“In terms of the quality of my instruction, there is a tremendous difference between 30 kids or more, and 25 kids,” Techentien said. “That additional five to seven kids over the 25 limit will likely contain one or two kids with some kind of behavioral issue which will require time and patience to work through.”

He would prefer to only have 20 kids in his English class because he feels the subject is best taught one-on-one. He believes that would make a big difference in the ability of students to grow as writers because he would have time to work a few minutes with each student during class exercises.

School Board Superintendent Joseph Joyner said that the class size amendment must be fully implemented by the next academic school year.

“There is no money to implement the program,” Joyner said. “That’s the big problem.”

For example, in a core high school class, if a 26th student shows up, according to the amendment, a second teacher must be brought in. He estimates it to be about an $8 million project, 120 new teachers would need to be hired, and 120 new rooms will need to be found. The county is expecting about a 3-5 percent reduction in funding again next year while still trying to comply with the amendment.

If these requirements are not made there will be financial penalties. The only way to reverse this amendment is for voters to repeal it with a 60 percent margin vote.

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