Duval Schools fall short in meeting class size | News

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Duval Schools fall short in meeting class size
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County schools made progress this year, but once again fell short of complying with mandated class size limits.

According to a head count conducted in October and analyzed by the Florida Department of Education, nearly 900 Duval County students are impacted by overcrowding.

The Florida Department of Education reported in Duval 1,075 classrooms, out of 21,000, exceed the class limit size.

In Florida, voters approved a class size amendment which states a maximum of 18 kids per pre-k classroom through the third grade, 22 students per class in grades four through eight and 25 students in grades nine through 12.

Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says a year ago the district had 20% of classrooms out of compliance and now it is down to 5%. 

Vitti says he estimates the penalty to the district if the appeal is denied to be in the range of $700,000.  Earlier this year the district paid a penalty of $1.7 million based on last year's count.

The district is appealing the state's calculation of the class size numbers. 

"There is a breaking point between 95 and 100 percent," said Vitti in explaining the decision making process of whether it makes financial sense to achieve full compliance.

"For us our analysis indicated to go from 95 to 100 percent would have meant anywhere from $15-20 million," said Vitti on the projected expense of hiring more staff mostly in elementary schools.   

Other districts on the First Coast complied with the class size amendment with Duval and Putnam not making the grade.

The state has not determined penalties until appeals are reviewed.

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