TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -A circuit court judge ruled Florida voters should have the right to determine class sizes in their public schools.
Judge Charles Francis agreed with the state's argument that the summary and title on Amendment 8 accurately describes the proposal's intent to make class size requirements flexible.
“When read together, the ballot title and summary clearly and unambiguously advise the voter that the Legislature is still obligated to provide the funding required to meet the class size approved by the voter,'' Francis wrote in a 10-page opinion.
Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer said he plans to appeal the judge's decision to the Florida Supreme Court. Meyer contends the amendment's wording is misleading because it doesn't address school funding.
The amendment is one of several that Florida voters will see in November. Amendment 8 would allow three more students in first through third grade classrooms and five more in the higher grades while requiring the existing limits to be met on a school average basis.
The teachers union strongly supported a 2002 citizen initiative that put class size limits in the constitution. They've been subsequently phased in on both a district average and a school average basis. Beginning with this school year, the caps are applied to every classroom, 18 students in the first through third grades, 22 in fourth through eighth and 25 in high school.
Meyer said that regardless of the legal outcome, the FEA would work to inform voters that passing Amendment 8 would diminish the amount of money provided by the state besides increasing class sizes.
Many Republican politicians, including former Gov. Jeb Bush, and local school officials opposed the 2002 class size amendment, believing it would be too expensive and take money from other educational needs.
The state has spent $19 billion so far for more classrooms, teachers and other related class size expenses.
The Florida Supreme Court already has knocked three proposed amendments, all from the Republican-controlled Legislature, off the ballot because their summaries, titles or texts that were ruled to be misleading or unclear.
Pictured: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush