ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – More and more students are flocking to St. Johns County, which is known for its top school district.
But that is putting a continued strain on resources. Now the school district is now taking another step to deal with that growth.
On Tuesday, the school board approved a resolution to allow the district to exceed the state limit for core subject class sizes, which is allowed by state law. The school board decided that sticking to those limits would cause disruptions for both students and teachers. It’s something the district has done in past years, the district and teachers union president said.
According to the most recent count, there were just over 50,000 students, about 2,000 more students than last school year, or 4% growth. So the school board voted to give some flexibility for class sizes.
The school board says “it is impractical, educationally unsound, or disruptive to student learning to continually move and relocate students within a grade level to maintain class size compliance.”
State law says the class maximums are 18 students in Pre-K through 3rd, 22 students in grades 4-8, and 25 students in Grades 9-12.
Starting next month, the school district will be able to add up to three new students to a class in Grades PK-3 and five new students to classes in Grades 4-12.
“The class size amendment was authorized by the citizens of Florida at the ballot box. It’s unfortunate there are so many loopholes to circumvent the will of the people,” said Michelle Dillon, president of the St. Johns County Education Association. “Class sizes capped at 18, 22 and 25 constitute a reasonable number of students for the respective grade levels. These class sizes provide the optimal learning environment for both students and teachers.”
It’s the latest move as the district tries to manage the staggering growth that’s led to overcrowding in schools.
To start the school year, the district rearranged attendance zones, added a record number of portable classrooms and approved plans to build four new schools over the next five years.
The school board says it will develop a plan to make sure the district is in full compliance with state class size limits by next October.
St. Johns County Student-Teacher Ratio, as of February: