If you go
The Collier County School Board will host a public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday to get input on the district’s plan to comply with Florida’s class-size amendment. The hearing will be in the School Board room of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administrative Center, 5775 Osceola Trail.
By the numbers
Core classes such as English and math must be limited to 18 students in pre-kindergarten through third grade, 22 students in fourth through eighth grades and 25 students in high school by the start of the 2010-11 school year.
NAPLES — The Collier County School District is ready to hear what the public says about class sizes.
The School Board will host a public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday to get input on the district’s plan to comply with Florida’s class-size amendment. Previously, the School Board would receive updates during board meetings, but state law requires that the district hold formal public hearings on the plan, district spokeswoman Leanne Zinser said.
Zinser said the Collier County School Board wanted to have the meeting at a time when working parents and the community could attend, hence the 6 p.m. start time.
Florida voters passed the class-size amendment in 2002. As it reads now, core classes such as English and math must be limited to 18 students in pre-kindergarten through third grade, 22 students in fourth through eighth grades and 25 students in high school by the start of the 2010-11 school year.
But realizing the mandate would create a financial burden for cash-strapped school districts, state lawmakers voted to put the amendment on the ballot in November.
Under Amendment 8, the class-size limits would apply to school-wide averages, not individual classroom sizes. That means, for example, that the class average in English classes at Naples High School would have to be 25, but not every class would have to have 25 students. Some could have 27, as long as others had 23.
Sixty percent of the voters would have to agree to the amendment this fall to make it law.
Still, those districts not in compliance with the individual class sizes could be slapped with penalties in October, when the state is legally required to hold schools accountable.
Some, but not all Collier County schools will meet the requirements, and the district has elected to pay the state’s penalty for non-compliance. To try to reduce class size, the district has increased 2009-10 instructional staffing by:
■ Assigning 19 resource teachers in elementary schools to core classroom teaching positions.
■ Adding an additional 11 elementary school classroom core teachers.
■ Adding three middle school teachers.
■ Adding two additional core teachers to each high school for a total of 14 additional teachers.
Still, Collier will not meet the requirements.
The penalty for the Collier County School District would be between $2,500 and $3,500 per student.
If Amendment 8 passes, the Collier County School District anticipates it will be compliant, although district officials said it will be necessary to adhere to the requirements of Amendment 8 as new students enroll, which could mean closing classes, hiring new teachers and splitting classes, among other things.
If Amendment 8 doesn’t pass, the district plans to rezone the elementary schools to allow for space in all of the schools for the additional teachers required to be added for full compliance. Rezoning would be implemented in the 2011-12 school year.
The district anticipates it will need to recruit the estimated 200 teachers needed for full compliance, in addition to 200 teachers needed annually for attrition. In addition, the district would revise the bus routes for the new elementary school bus zones and use $12 million to $15 million from the district’s reserves to hire the teachers needed to comply with class-size reduction.
Copies of the plan
The entire content of the district’s plan is posted on the district’s web site, www.collierschools.com. A hard copy may be obtained by the district’s Communication Services Department by calling (239) 377-0180 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The district is also accepting comments to be included in the record of the hearing, which can be sent before or after the hearing to email@example.com or mailed to Input/Communication Services Department/The School District of Collier County 5775 Osceola Trail Naples, 34109.