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Florida Constitution Proposal Would Target Class Size, Higher Teacher Pay

Krissy Venosdale
Flickr Commons

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission will consider a proposal that would make it easier for schools to comply with class-size limits, with any financial savings required to go toward higher teacher pay.

Commission member Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, filed the proposal before a deadline last week.

If approved by the commission in the coming months, it would go on the November 2018 ballot.

Voters in 2002 approved a constitutional amendment that placed strict limits on public-school class sizes. But the requirements have long been controversial, with many Republicans questioning whether the limits improve student achievement and pointing to the costs.

Under Levesque's proposed constitutional amendment (Proposal 90), schools could comply with class-size limits based on average numbers of students.

For example, the 2002 constitutional amendment set a maximum of 18 students for each teacher in prekindergarten through third grade. Levesque's proposal would allow schools to have an average of 18 students in those grade levels --- an easier standard to meet than a maximum of 18.

The proposal also would require that money “not spent by districts to maintain the school-level average class size maximums must be spent towards raising teacher pay to the national average.”

Levesque is a former education staff director in the House who later became a top aide to former Gov. Jeb Bush.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education was founded by Bush. Levesque also is executive director of the Foundation for Florida's Future, another organization founded by Bush.