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Weatherford rolls out Amend. 8 campaign

Rep. Will Weatherford, in line to be House Speaker, rolled out the campaign today to tweak Florida's class size amendment, passed by voters in 2002 to relieve overcrowded classes. Amendment 8 on the Nov. 2 ballot would allow class sizes to be measured on a school-wide average instead of on an individual level.

Weatherford, along with members of the School Boards Association and administrators, cited stories of schools creating combo classes or forcing new residents to go to a different school. If the amendment were passed, it would save the state between $350 million and $1 billion, though Weatherford said the proposal "is not about saving money for the state and diverting resources to somewhere else."

Ron Sachs, who is running press for the campaign with the help of the Florida Chamber, said the campaign will rely on grassroots support from local superintendents and principals. He said there will be a "targeted paid media blitz" in the closing weeks of the election.

Ingrid Olsen, a spokeswoman for the No on 8 campaign (which has the backing of the Florida Education Assocation), contends that schools are only struggling because the Legislature did not adequately pay to reduce class sizes, as it is required to do. She called the flexibility argument a "scare tactic" used right as parents are sending their kids back to school.