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Court Rejects Challenge to Fla. Class-Size Measure

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a November ballot measure that would relax the state's limits on class sizes.

The state's highest court unanimously turned away a challenge by the Florida Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, to the state ballot summary of the measure. The union argued that the summary does not fully disclose the effects of Amendment 8, which would alter a 2002 state constitutional amendment that established maximum class sizes of 18 students in K-3, 22 students in grades 4-8, and 25 students in high school.

As the Miami Herald explained in a story yesterday, "The proposal would calculate those caps at a schoolwide average, and individual classes could exceed the average by a handful of students. The changes could save the state between $350 million and $1 billion, but the union argues that the ballot summary doesn't mention those savings."

The state supreme court said today that the ballot summary's failure to address the effect on state class size funding does not make it defective.

"Although the dollar amount required to fund the class size requirements will be affected by the change in the formula for class sizes, the constitutional obligation of the state to provide 'sufficient funds' for the revised class size requirements is not being altered," the court said in Florida Education Association v. Florida Department of State. "Under both the current provision and under Amendment 8, Floridians would have the same right to have the state provide 'sufficient funds' for the mandated class sizes."

Even with the measure kept on the ballot, the Herald reported that a September survey showed that only 35 percent of likely voters were supporting it, well below the 60 percent needed to adopt a constitutional amendment.

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