• Volusia Co. school district facing fines for oversize classes


    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - The state of Florida says the Volusia County school district must come up with a plan to reduce class sizes, which means it needs money to hire more teachers.

    The problem is in elementary and middle schools, where state law says only 18 students can be in kindergarten through third-grade classes, and up to 22 students  can be in fourth- through eighth-grade classes.

    The struggle to balance classroom sizes  and the budget has Volusia County Schools in a bind. The district is now facing fines for exceeding class sizes - -- but there's no money to hire more teachers.

    "Unfortunately, we ran out of money to do that, so we're doing the best we can with the resources that we have," said Nancy Wait of Volusia County Schools.

    Last week, the school district failed to meet the state's deadline to come into compliance with class size regulations. Parents and grandparents, like Dorris Bates, have noticed larger class sizes -- and she doesn't want that for her granddaughter.

    "I don't like it; I think that's too many. The teachers can't teach properly, and no one learns anything that way," Bates said.

    School district officials say smaller class sizes are better for students, but filling the seats and facing up to $3 million in fines from the state -- is actually saving the district money.

    Officials say the cost of hiring the teachers needed to meet state requirements is far greater.

    "That's a $12 million budget item. The fines are between $2 [million] and $3 million. There's just no way we could afford to hire those teachers," Wait said.

    Parents said they still want smaller classes.

    "They better find the money someplace to do that so they don't have to put too many children in the classes," Bates said.

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