FL Supreme Court rejects Amendment 8 challenge

TALLAHASSEE, FL (AP) - The Florida Supreme Court has rejected a teachers union's challenge to a ballot issue that would loosen the state's class size limits.

UPDATE, THU 10 PM: The unanimous ruling came Thursday, just a day after the justices heard oral argument on Amendment 8.

They ruled its ballot summary accurately describes what the Legislature's proposed state constitutional amendment would do.

The Florida Education Association had argued the summary was misleading because it failed to say the proposal would reduce state spending to ensure that class size requirements are met.

The union wanted the high court to prevent votes from being counted as it would have been too late to take it off the November 2 ballot.

Update: WED 1 PM: The Florida Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in the case of the Teachers Union challenging Amendment 8. Amendment 8 is a ballot proposal that would ease restrictions on class-size limits.

A teachers union lawyer has come under tough questioning from the Florida Supreme Court in a case challenging a ballot proposal to loosen class size limits.

Florida Education Association lawyer Ron Meyer on Wednesday argued the justices should prevent votes from being counted on Amendment 8. It's too late to remove the measure from the Nov. 2 ballot.

The justices, though, had a hard time with his claim the state constitutional amendment's ballot summary is misleading because it doesn't say that the proposal would cut class size spending. Justice Barbara Pariente said that should be obvious.

Voters in 2002 approved a citizen.

Update, WED 10 AM: The Florida Education Association is set to ask the justices Wednesday to prevent the state from counting votes cast on Amendment 8. It's too late to remove the measure from the November 2 ballot.

Meantime, Palm Beach County School District Officials are weighing in on one possible solution to complying with class size limits.

Wednesday afternoon, Palm Beach County Superintendent Art Johnson will ask the school board for the power to move students from schools as he sees fit to meet class-size requirements.

It's a precaution in the event Amendment 8 fails in November. If it passes, class-size restrictions would be eased.

The district could be fined $27 million and lose $5 million in funding if it does not comply with class-size limits.

Previously: Palm Beach County Superintendent of Schools Doctor Art Johnson says he has good reason to seek the power to re-assign kids to schools regardless where they live.

"We can't build new schools or leave schools crowded when there are schools that have lots of seats left," said district spokesman Nat Harrington.

He will ask the school board to consider the matter Wednesday.

It seems like Johnson may be worried about Amendment 8 not passing. It's on the upcoming ballot and asks voters to ease the hard caps on classroom size to a reasonable level.

As it stands now, there can be no more than 18 students per classroom in kindergarten through third grade; 22 in fourth through eighth grades, and 25 in ninth through 12th grades.

With Amendment 8 class sizes would expand: for kindergarten through grade 3, 21 students; for grades 4 through 8, 27 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 30 students.

The problem is the amendment must get 60 percent of the vote and that may not happen.

Failure to comply to class size limits could lead to fines of up to $27 million in Palm Beach County alone.

Parents fear their kids will be bused to farther schools and in some cases lower-performing schools.

"My child goes to an A school, great programs there. If this changes, he could go to a D school," said one parent.

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