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Senate takes swift action on education bills

Clearing the Florida Senate on Thursday morning: SB 1546, a broad proposal to make it easier for charter schools to expand, and SB 1466, which would dramatically reduce the number of courses subject to state class-size limits.

There was little discussion on the two bills, which now head to a vote in the House -- likely on Friday.

The charter measure passed with a 31-8 vote. Two Democrats, Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando and Sen. Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood, broke party lines vote in favor.

The bill would allow certain charter schools to be designated as "high-performing." With that classification would come perks like having 15-year charter agreements, being able to expand student enrollment and being able to open new schools.

Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat, was the only lawmaker to speak against the bill, saying it would make it difficult for school districts to keep track of charter schools. "This particular bill is aggressive," he said.

The class-size change drew even less opposition: a single "no" vote from Sen. Tony Hill, a Jacksonville Democrat. The bill would reduce the number of courses affected by class-size rules from 849 to 288.