• Marion schools hope to add nearly 200 teachers


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Marion County's school district has been tagged with the reputation as the worst violator of Florida's class-size rules.
    Now the school district has an ambitious plan to hire nearly 200 new teachers.
    Earlier, the district cut teaching jobs to save money. But now administrators are reversing course
    In the pickup line outside Osceola Middle School in Ocala some parents told Channel 9's Berndt Petersen that the county needs more teachers.
    "It would be very important that the classroom would stay smaller," said parent Sam Troche.
    But this year many classrooms were two or three students over the state class-size limit.
    "We don't like to be out of compliance, if you will. We don't like the label of being the most egregious when it comes to exceeding class sizes. But it was a purely financial decision to do that," said school spokesman Kevin Christian.
    Last year, Marion County was the worst class-size violator in the entire state and state fines for breaking the rules cost the school system $4 million. But administrators said that was far less than what it would have cost to hire enough teachers to comply. 
    But the administration is determined to make the grade next year and has a plan to hire 181 new teachers and to restore art, music, and physical education classes. 
    The school board hopes to have the new teachers in the classrooms this fall.

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