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Broward School Overcrowding Leads To Fines And Changes

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(Credit: AP)

(Credit: AP)

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – All Broward high schools will implement a uniform seven period class schedule next school year, eliminating the block schedules used in 12 high schools.

The controversial announcement came Thursday afternoon.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said the district felt it was the best step to take to make progress toward complying with Florida’s class size mandate.

The mandate requires that each high school class have a maximum of 25 students per class.

Twenty two students in grades 4 through 8, and eighteen students in Pre-K through third grade.

The district has struggled to meet those requirements because of budget constraints. Last year, 1,100 teachers were laid off.

Because most classes were overloaded, the state imposed a fine of $66 million dollars. The fine was reduced to $8.5 million after the district came up with solutions to fix the problem.

Even with the changes, the district won’t be in total compliance with the state mandates on class size.

Runcie hopes to be in full compliance by the 2013/2014 school year.

With a seven period schedule, students will receive 9,000 minutes of instruction time per class.  A seventh period day will also allow high schools to offer additional electives and other programs like advanced placement and dual enrollment classes.

Teachers work load will go up, and although the teacher’s union objects to the plan, Runcie said he plans to implement the change regardless of whether the union supports it or not.

CBS4 News spoke to several students outside Stranahan High School in Ft. Lauderdale where the block schedule is in effect.

Senior Shadeska Blenman said she has liked the block schedule.

“You would have classes every other day so if you had work to go over you had an extra day,” said Blenman. “Also if you didn’t want to see a teacher because of a conflict, you had the buffer of an extra day.”

But Junior Stephanie Jacobs said she is no fan of the block schedule.

“I don’t learn as much going to class every other day,” said Jacobs.

Freshman James Ware says he worries about the added homework burden.

‘People will be staying up late and then tired the next day for class,” said Ware. “They’ll be getting F’s instead of A’s”

The Superintendent also confirmed that the district will be laying off some non-instructional staff like bookkeepers to consolidate positions and offset the costs of hiring more teachers.

Runcie would not say how many non instructional positions will be eliminated.

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