Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The Polk County School District opened it's new term this week with another record breaking enrollment number: 81,168 students found their way into class Monday, up 3.5 percent from last year. Several schools have serious overcrowding problems, and that is causing administrators to either ignore --- at least temporairly --- the federal No Child Left Behind rule which would require the district to offer transfers to over 34,000 students at 29 low performing Title 1 schools, or the state's class size amendment.

One school which opened Monday for the first time to relieve overcrowding and the rapid growth in the Four Corners area, Poinciana's Lake Marion Creek Elementary, was built to handle up to 750 students. It's tally on opening day: approximately 1,150, more than 50 percent over capacity. Administrators say 14 portable classrooms will be required to resolve the issue.

Another school, Winter Haven's Chain of Lakes Elementary, ended it's first year of operation in June with about 600 students. Over 800 showed up Monday for the first day of class, at least 100 of those transfers under "No Child Left Behind".

From today's Lakeland Ledger:

The district calculated that Garden Grove Elementary near Winter Haven would have 76 transfers.

Principal Freddie Combs said 75 of those students showed up Monday.

The school was able to find a desk for each student, but Combs said she needs at least one more teacher in each grade to comply with the class size amendment.

Right now, Garden Grove is 68 students over the class-size limit.

This year, the class-size amendment requires that each school have an average class size of 18 children in kindergarten through third grade, 22 in grades four through eight and 25 in high school. The class-size amendment was passed by Florida voters in 2002.

But with little space available for portables, Garden Grove and many other elementary schools will need to use co-teaching to comply with the class-size amendment, said Superintendent Gail McKinzie.

Co-teaching is the practice of placing two teachers in one room with a large class of students.

Realizing Polk County is not the only district with such a problem, can you say there is a crisis at hand???


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