Last week, Art Johnson, Palm Beach County Superintendent, made headlines -- again. Granted this isn't anything new. In April, the teacher's union voted "no confidence" in him while we voted "no confidence in his graduation speeches."
This time, he was making news with his request for the almighty power to transfer students from one to school to another for "good cause reason." Specifically that good cause reason is Amendment 8 (Florida's class size amendment.)
His request asked the School Board that if Amendment 8 is not passed by voters on November 2 that he have the power to transfer students within the county to fix the problems with overcrowded classrooms.
Amendment 8 is designed to relax the current state-mandate on the maximum number of students per class: 18 max in K-3, 22 max in 4-8, and 25 max in 9-12.
Johnson later pulled the proposal (and rather abruptly) when it was met with outcry by both teachers and students.
What he never seemed to explain is that moving students between schools is not his only option. In fact, the Florida Department of Education website has a handy FAQ page that details the different options a superintendent can use.
Here are three that could apply to all grade levels:
1. "Operate schools beyond the normal operating hours to provide classes in the evening or operate more than one session of school during the day."
2. "Use year-round schools and other nontraditional calendars that do not adversely impact annual assessment of student achievement."
3. "Adopt alternative methods of class scheduling, such as block scheduling."
Many of the other options apply mostly to high schools and what it would take to move the kids out quickly. If you want to see a full list of the options click here (and go to page 4.)
According to Glenn Thomas, Assistant Dean of Pre-K through 12th Grade Schools and Programs at FAU, classroom overcrowding is a problem that many Florida counties are having. Each superintendent in each county of Florida is looking at different options and what will work for them. But it's a matter of what works for one community over another.
We tried contacting Johnson at his office twice but was told he was busy.