19% of local classes exceed size limits

Published: Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 7:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 7:48 p.m.

The Alachua County School District is the seventh worst violator of the class-size amendment, according to data from the Department of Education.

In Alachua County, 18.99 percent of the district's classes exceeded the limit set by the state, according to a head count done in October.

The class-size limits are 18 for prekindergarten through third grade, 22 for fourth through eighth grade and 25 for high school. In Alachua County Public Schools, prekindergarten through third grade were 52.08 full-time equivalent students over the cap, fourth through eighth grade were 134.92 FTE students over and high school had 93.94 FTE students over.

State officials use a formula to calculate full-time equivalency that doesn't always reflect the number of students.

Since most middle and high school students have six classes, the penalty is one-sixth of the amount for every child over the limit. That's because they change classes and not every class they attend may be over the limit.

If one student in high school is in six classes that are over the limit, that would equal one full-time equivalent unit.

The school district could face fines for exceeding class-size limits. Last year, the state slapped the district with a $575,000 fine for failing to meet class-size requirements.

Eileen Roy, chair of the Alachua County School Board, said the district has decided in the past that paying the fine is more cost-effective than opening new sections of classes.

She said that without enough state funding to reshuffle and open new sections wherever there are too many students in a classroom, the districts have to decide whether to spend the larger amount of money to comply or pay fines.

"You have to make concessions," she said.

Staff writer Joe Callahan contributed to this report. Contact Joey Flechas at 338-3166 or joey.flechas@gvillesun.com.

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