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FLORIDIANS REAFFIRM SUPPORT FOR CLASS-SIZE AMENDMENT

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"We may have to wait a couple more years for the effects, the fiscal effects, to become more apparent," said House Speaker Johnnie Byrd (R).

In November 2002, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment that caps class size at eighteen students per classroom in grades K-3, twenty-two students in grades 4-8, and twenty-five students in grades 9-12. Since then, Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) and other leading Republicans in the state legislature have criticized the amendment and cited its huge potential costs.

Many legislators have vowed to try to repeal the amendment. However, a recent poll by the Florida Times-Union and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel found that the amendment enjoys continued support from Florida voters. Of the six hundred registered voters polled, 43 percent said they wanted the amendment to stay as it is, and an additional 14 percent would favor a revision that would limit class caps only in kindergarten through third grade. Only 29 percent favored a complete repeal of the amendment.

Perhaps as a result of the poll, momentum to repeal appeared to slow when Governor Bush failed to mention the issue in his State of the State Address last week. In a speech largely devoted to education, Bush discussed his plan to put professional reading coaches in half of Florida’s middle schools and to implement other education initiatives, but shied away from talking about the class-size amendment. After the address, Bush sounded a little more resigned to accepting the law-at least for the time being. “There’s very little I can do,” he told the Associated Press. The state legislature appears to be of the same opinion as the governor. “We may have to wait a couple more years for the effects, the fiscal effects, to become more apparent,” said House Speaker Johnnie Byrd (R).

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