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House Republican rails against class size amendment

Rep. David Simmons, a Maitland Republican and chairman of the Committee on 21st Century Competitiveness, grew agitated Tuesday morning after South Florida PTA members and members of the Florida Education Association and then Democrats on his committee voiced their opposition to a proposal to send the class size amendment back to voters.

Under Simmons proposal, class size reduction efforts would be frozen at districtwide averages, although no class could be five students over the caps included in the current amendment. A separate bill would take any savings realized from this change and apply it to salary increases for all school employees.

Simmons called the current amendment "inane'' and launched a tirade against it. "It is an insane expenditure of funds and everybody knows it,'' said Simmons. "You might as well walk over to a toilet and take the money and flush it down."

Earlier in the meeting Simmons grilled Cheri Ball, the legislative chair for the Miami Palmetto Senior High PTSA, who said she saw the Simmons proposal as a retreat from what voters wanted. No less than three times, Simmons pressed Ball to recommend a "solution" to the inflexibility of the current amendment.