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PRESS RELEASE

February 14, 2005

Jacob DiPietre
(850) 488-5394

MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush Announces Joint Resolution to Amend Class Size Amendment
Amendment Would Require District Average Class Sizes and Increase Teacher Pay

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Jeb Bush and Lt. Governor Toni Jennings, today announced a joint resolution to provide flexibility to the constitutional requirements for class size and at the same time increase beginning teacher pay. Joined by Senate President Tom Lee and House Speaker Allan Bense, the Governor reiterated Florida’s commitment to rising student achievement by focusing on the needs of the student and by attracting and retaining high-quality teachers.

"To fulfill our commitment to Florida's voters and maintain a high quality education for our students, we must balance the importance of class size and teacher pay," said Governor Bush. "Teachers make a difference, and we would serve our students better by focusing on attracting and retaining the quality teachers by raising teacher pay."

Under the proposed resolution, sponsored by Senator Evelyn Lynn and Representative John Stargel, flexibility would be given to school districts to implement district average class sizes limits. The implementation timeframe would be moved up to 2007, rather than 2010.

In addition, the resolution would establish the minimum beginning teacher pay at no less than $35,000 a year and require future increases to keep the pay above the national average.

"Florida's education system has seen significant improvements under the Governor’s A+ plan for education, and this amendment furthers Florida’s pledge to provide a high quality education to its students," said Lt. Governor Jennings. "By maintaining reasonable district class size averages, funding can be re-directed to much needed teacher pay increases."

President Lee added, "While it is difficult to ask the voters to take a second look at this amendment, I am convinced a second look is in the best interest for attaining Florida's long-term public education goals. Facilities are an important element of the education equation but a classroom building is just bricks and mortar without a high quality teacher inside. Today marks the first step in finding an appropriate balance in the education equation so that we can earn the confidence of parents who expect, demand and deserve the best education system for their children."

Passed in 2002, original projections to implement the class size amendment by the Revenue Estimating Conference showed spending between $20 billion and $27 billion over the 8-year implementation of the amendment. To date, Florida has invested more than $2 billion in class size reduction, and if the Governor’s budget recommendations are adopted, that figure will increase to more than $3.8 billion. The projected total spending to implement class size through 2010 is expected to exceed $22 billion.

"If we continue on this path, we will be forced to spend billions of dollars on this one facet of our education system while shortchanging other very important needs," said Speaker Bense. "This proposal allows us to address other critical areas, such as teacher pay, and still uphold the will of the voters by continuing to reduce class sizes."

Bill Montford, Superintendent, Leon County Public Schools added, "My colleagues and I have been concerned about the financial and other impacts of the class size amendment since its inception. We are also very supportive of raising teacher salaries -- which recognizes their value in the education system. The Governor's proposal addresses both of our issues in a positive and aggressive manner. We are appreciative of his efforts to continue to recognize the value of our classroom teachers."

Maintaining district average class sizes of 18 students in elementary school, 22 students in middle school and 25 in high school will enable principals to allocate resources in the best interest of the students.

"The proposed amendment gives educators the ability to make grouping decisions that best meet students’ learning needs," said Education Commissioner John Winn. "District average class sizes allow even smaller classes for our neediest, struggling readers where our resources can do the most good."

Tom Greer, President, Florida School Board Association added, "Moving to a minimum district average would allow more freedom in organizing instruction and focus resources where they are most needed."

In order to fully implement the current class size amendment by 2010, some districts might have to rezone students and bus them miles away to available classrooms in other schools, use music, art rooms and gymnasiums for classrooms, or require double sessions to comply with the new law.

"Florida’s PTA supports efforts to improve our public schools," said Nancy Cox, President, Florida PTA. "The Governor's proposal keeps an important, yet flexible emphasis on class size while adding a component to increase teacher pay. Our hardworking teachers are the key to a successful education system, and we applaud efforts to recognize their value."

Nuri Ayers, President, Florida Association of School Administrators added, "The Florida Association of School Administrators is pleased to join Governor Jeb Bush in his efforts to implement the Constitutional Amendment on class size while simultaneously attracting and retaining outstanding teachers through raising teacher salaries."

The Governor was also joined in Tallahassee by the following individuals:

  • Members of the Legislature
  • Jim Warford, Chancellor, Division of K-12 Public Schools
  • David Armstrong, Chancellor, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Education
  • Debra Austin, Chancellor, State University System
  • Carolyn Roberts, Chair, Board of Governors
  • Bill Law, Community College Council of Presidents and President of Tallahassee Community College
  • Phil Handy, Chair, State Board of Education
  • Donna Callaway, State Board Member
  • Roberto Martinez, State Board Member
  • Phoebe Raulerson, State Board Member
  • David Mosrie, Executive Director, Florida Association of District School Superintendents
  • Joy Frank, Florida Association of District School Superintendents
  • Jon Weigman, Florida Association of District School Superintendents
  • Wayne Blanton, Executive Director, Florida School Board Association
  • Sheila Costigan, Chair, legislative committee, Florida School Board Association
  • Mike Eader, Executive Director, Florida Association of School Administrators
  • Lanelle Cruse, President-Elect, Florida PTA
  • Dawn Steward, Legislative Affairs Director, Florida PTA
  • Kerri Ann Walukiewicz, Teacher of the Year
  • James McCalister, Superintendent, Bay County Public Schools
  • David Owens, Superintendent, Clay County Public Schools
  • Earl Lennard, Superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools
  • Danny Sims, Superintendent, Jackson County Public Schools
  • Sara Wilcox, Superintendent, Martin County Public Schools
  • David Miller, Superintendent, Wakulla County Public Schools
  • Charlie Ohlinger, Council of 100
  • Alice Caswell, Principal, Swift Creek Middle School
  • Randy Free, Principal, Belle Vue Middle School
  • Michelle Gayle, Principal, Griffin Middle School
  • Martha Bunch, Principal, Lincoln High School
  • Ronnie Youngblood, Executive Director of Communications and Community Involvement
  • Peggy Youngblood, Principal, Roberts Elementary School
  • Hodgetta Huckaby, Principal, Oak Ridge Elementary School

For more information on Governor Bush's education reform initiatives, please visit www.myflorida.com.

Please see attached Joint Resolution and quotes from individuals in support of the Constitutional Amendment.

# # #

JOINT RESOLUTION

A joint resolution proposing an amendment to Section 1 of Article IX of the State Constitution, relating to public education, to amend the class-size requirements for students in grades prekindergarten through 12 and prescribe minimum salary standards for public school teachers.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA:

That the following amendment to Section 1 of Article IX of the State Constitution is agreed to and shall be submitted to the electors of this state for approval or rejection at the next general election or at an earlier special election specifically authorized by law for that purpose:

ARTICLE IX EDUCATION

SECTION 1. Public education.--

(a) The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require. To assure that children attending public schools obtain a high quality education, the legislature shall make adequate provision to ensure that, by the beginning of the 2007 2010 school year, there are a sufficient number of classrooms so that:

(1) The district average maximum number of students who are assigned to each teacher who is teaching in public school classrooms for prekindergarten through grade 3 does not exceed 18 students;

(2) The district average maximum number of students who are assigned to each teacher who is teaching in public school classrooms for grades 4 through 8 does not exceed 22 students; and

(3) The district average maximum number of students who are assigned to each teacher who is teaching in public school classrooms for grades 9 through 12 does not exceed 25 students.

The class size requirements of this subsection do not apply to extracurricular classes. Payment of the costs associated with reducing class size to meet these requirements is the responsibility of the state and not of local schools districts. Beginning with the 2003-2004 fiscal year, the legislature shall provide sufficient funds to reduce the district average class size number of students in each classroom by at least two students per year until the maximum class size number of students per classroom does not exceed the requirements of this subsection.

(b) The minimum salary for each public school teacher shall be provided by law and must be no less than $35,000 and must be higher than the national average beginning pay.

(c) (b) Every four-year old child in Florida shall be provided by the State a high quality pre-kindergarten learning opportunity in the form of an early childhood development and education program which shall be voluntary, high quality, free, and delivered according to professionally accepted standards. An early childhood development and education program means an organized program designed to address and enhance each child's ability to make age appropriate progress in an appropriate range of settings in the development of language and cognitive capabilities and emotional, social, regulatory and moral capacities through education in basic skills and such other skills as the Legislature may determine to be appropriate.

(d) (c) The early childhood education and development programs provided by reason of subparagraph (b) shall be implemented no later than the beginning of the 2005 school year through funds generated in addition to those used for existing education, health, and development programs. Existing education, health, and development programs are those funded by the State as of January 1, 2002 that provided for child or adult education, health care, or development.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the following statement be placed on the ballot:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

ARTICLE IX, SECTION 1

MAXIMUM CLASS SIZE; MINIMUM TEACHER SALARIES;.--Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to amend the maximum class sizes in public school classrooms, to move up the implementation date, to require that public school teachers receive a minimum salary of $35,000, and to require that starting teacher pay increases to stay above the national average.

# # #

In Support of the Constitutional Amendment

Phil Handy, Chairman, State Board of Education
"Based on scientific research, resources should be allocated to high quality teachers rather than smaller classrooms. It would be a much better allocation of resources."

T. Willard Fair, Vice Chair, State Board of Education
"This proposal clearly demonstrates the state’s commitment to ensure Florida’s children receive the best education. We did not fully agree with the intent of the class size legislation, but had an obligation to carry out the people’s mandate. This proposal allows us to be responsible to the electorate, but at the same time reward the most important people in education-the teachers."

Donna Callaway, State Board of Education
"By all accounts and measures this proposed legislation will move Florida ahead in both class size and teacher pay. Benefiting the most will be our students who will be drawn in to achieving their dreams and exceeding all of our expectations because of being taught by the highest quality teachers."

Julia Johnson, State Board of Education
"This resolution will strengthen our pool of talented teachers and provide students with the highest caliber instructors."

Roberto Martinez, State Board of Education
"This amendment is in the best interest of our students as it will serve to attract and retain the best teachers."

Phoebe Raulerson, State Board of Education
"The most important thing in the classroom is the teacher and we need to do more to draw our best young people into teaching and increasing salaries will help."

Linda Taylor, State Board of Education
"Teachers are an invaluable resource and deserve to be recognized for their contributions. You can never pay a teacher enough given the impact they will have on a child’s life."

Carolyn Roberts, Chair, Board of Governors
"This provides a measure of flexibility that is needed to manage a comprehensive education system, while making the teaching profession more attractive to talented graduates of Florida's colleges and universities."

Jim Warford, K-12 Chancellor, Department of Education
"The Governor's plan gives us a final chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for Florida's children and teachers".

David Armstrong, Community Colleges and Workforce Education Chancellor, Department of Education
"Governor Bush's proposal will address the real challenges of education, which are recruiting and retaining top quality teachers with better pay. Smaller classes may make a little difference in education, but far more important is having a quality teacher in every classroom and increasing teacher pay is part of the solution to this problem. Additionally, this proposal long term will help community colleges, universities, and other parts of education by limiting the hemorrhaging costs of the well-intended, but not well thought out, class size constitutional amendment."

Dr. David Mosrie, Chief Executive Officer, Florida Association of District School Superintendents
"Florida has had a critical teacher shortage for years. FADSS applauds Governor Bush for crafting a resolution to attract more quality teachers to Florida’s classrooms while maintaining the key elements of the class size reduction amendment."

Wayne Blanton, Executive Director, Florida School Board Association
"We are pleased to work with the Governor and Legislature to improve education and increase teachers’ salaries throughout our state. We are looking forward to this opportunity to work together."

Lenelle B. Cruse, President Elect, Florida PTA
"Florida’s PTA commends the Governor in his effort to find a more equitable solution to the class size issue throughout the State of Florida. The allocation of monies to teacher pay increases along with a minimum teacher salary is a bold and innovative approach to an age-old inequity.

James McCalister, Superintendent, Bay County Public Schools
"The best solution for class size and teacher salaries is what the Governor has recommended. This will put us light-years ahead of other states."

Frank Till, Superintendent, Broward County Public Schools
"This is something the board will want to consider."

David Owens, Superintendent, Clay County Public Schools
"I am so excited about the Governor's proposal to limit class size reduction and use the money saved by this proposal to give teachers a much deserved raise. Limiting class size reduction to the district level, instead of by each individual class, is the most effective way to implement class size reduction. I applaud our Governor's brave effort to undertake this challenge and its success will be a tremendous boost to public education in the state of Florida."

John Fryer, Superintendent, Duval County Public Schools
"All of us who run public school systems appreciate the need for manageable class sizes and are pleased with the investment the state has made thus far in class size reduction. However, the influx of new teachers is already outstripping our training capacity and we are unable to find enough new qualified teachers to meet our needs. We cannot keep up with the associated classroom construction requirements. The cost incurred by a continuation of the mandated class size reduction will limit our ability to provide pay raises for our existing teaching force. The final classroom limit of 18, 22 and 25 will be totally unworkable, necessitating constant hiring of new teachers and shifting of children from classroom to classroom. Accordingly, I applaud the Governor’s initiative to capture the reductions already achieved and to channel future resources into well deserved teacher pay raises."

Earl Lennard, Superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools
"The Governor’s proposal ensures that the voice of the voter is heard and that responsibility for using resources effectively will rest with local boards and superintendents. This initiative provides us with our best hope yet for establishing teachers’ salaries at levels necessary to recruit and retain highly qualified educators."

Danny Sims, Superintendent, Jackson County Public Schools
"I think this is the right thing to do. The way class size is written now it is not affordable for our state. The bottom line to increasing student achievement is who is in the classroom with the students and being able to provide higher salaries will help continue to support the progress we have seen."

Clayton Wilcox, Superintendent, Pinellas County Public Schools
"This is a powerful idea."

John Rogers, Superintendent, Santa Rosa County Public Schools
"Without reservation, I pledge my full support for the Governor's class-size and salary proposal. Obviously, class-size at the district average has already lowered the classroom average significantly and if approved, will maintain the cap in future years. The salary proposal is good news for educators. Implementing a minimum salary of $35,000 will help in the recruitment of teachers as well as attracting future teachers to the wonderful career of education. The combination of these recommendations will allow school districts like Santa Rosa and others to maintain programs such as Reading Recovery, Read 180, technology labs and intervention programs that we know have been proven to benefit students educationally."

David Miller, Superintendent, Wakulla County Public Schools
"This is a step in the right direction to improve teacher salaries in Florida--a step that is sorely needed."

Charlie Ohlinger, Council of 100
"The Council of 100 supports the Governor’s proposal and believes it will increase performance and achievement among Florida’s students better preparing them for the workforce."

William D. Law, Jr., Community College Council of Presidents and President of Tallahassee Community College
"I’m happy to support the effort of Governor Bush to capture the best of the class size amendment while shifting emphasis to enhance teacher salaries. Presently, in Florida, the growing shortage of well-qualified teachers is a far greater crisis than is the remaining minor modifications to class size below the district level."

John C. Cavanaugh, Chair, State University Presidents Association and President of University of West Florida
"The Governor’s proposal to increase teacher pay will help universities attract more candidates into the colleges of education in addition to focusing on the importance of teachers rather than number of students in classroom."

Louis V Gerstner, Jr., Chairman of the Teaching Commission
"We at the bipartisan Teaching Commission believe that there's no single more vital challenge in America than upgrading and modernizing the profession that makes all other professions possible. Today, Governor Bush begins to make clear to Floridians and the nation that when teachers are recognized and valued for the work they do through a smarter and more modern pay system, better training and support, and stronger leaders, our children will reap the rewards."

  • Charts: Total Operating Cost to Implement through 2010-11, Total Cost to Implement, and Florida Average Beginning Teacher Salaries (PDF, 442 KB)