OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — This year, two schools in Osceola County are not in compliance with state standards that set maximum class sizes.
In 2002, voters approved the class size amendment, and it went into effect in 2010. It limits how many students can be in core classes like math, English, and science.
The limit is 18 students for kindergarten through third grade. From fourth through eighth grade, the limit is 22. In a high school core class, the limit is 25 students.
In a letter to Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr., Osceola County school officials attempt to explain why Harmony Community and Harmony Middle School aren’t meeting state standards on class sizes.
The letter says both schools are in one of the fastest growing areas in the county, meaning the district has struggled with capacity and keeping up with enrollment.
The letter also says a tough year for recruiting and retaining teachers has forced the school to implement creative ideas.
“I would bet money that there are others that are not meeting the spirit of the law,” Osceola County Education Association President Lare Allen said. “They may meet compliance technically, but they’re not doing what’s best for students.”
Allen says he’s heard repeatedly from teachers who have more than 30 kids in their classrooms
At their regular meeting Tuesday, Osceola County School Board Members heard from Harmony Community School teacher Debbie Mann who said the district’s teacher recruiting and retention problem is having a trickle effect.
“We can’t just go, we’re going to put an assistant in there. We’re going to put two teachers in a room. We’re going to do whatever and let this ride for the remainder of the school year,” Mann told the board members.
State leaders say it’s difficult to be out of compliance with the standards because there are a number of exceptions built into the law.
Of the other Central Florida school districts, only Brevard County said they need to send a similar class reduction compliance plan to the state.
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