COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - It's your money and taxpayers are paying $3.5 million after Collier County schools broke the rules. The district failed to abide by the class size amendment, saying paying the fine was cheaper and better served the community than hiring more than 130 teachers this year.
The school district was hoping Amendment 8, the bill to reverse the class size law, would pass; however, voters turned it down.
When asked if nervous about the 2011 school year, Collier School Board Member Pat Carroll says, "Yes, we really are because the state can't print money and we don't have increased revenue."
Collier School District's money woes break down like this:
They have to pay an estimated $3.5 million to the state for breaking the class size law.
Next year, to abide by the law, the district must hire 130 teachers, costing more than $9.3 million.
But, the problems don't end with money as board member Julie Sprague explains, "We're going to have to go out and recruit some highly effective teachers in our classrooms."
Nearly every other county in the state will be doing the same, making competition fierce for the better teachers.
"We don't don't know what we'll get but we have to be real selective in our process," Naples resident Len Mustari says.
He's even more concerned his granddaughter could miss out on her accelerated classes. The new law means if those classes are full, there may be a lottery type system that could leave some kids out.
That idea doesn't sit well with Mustari's middle school granddaughter. "I might be a little upset because I was smart enough to be in that class, and I'd have to be in a regular class that wouldn't learn as quickly," Natalie Mustari tells WINK News.
Another issue, many kids could experience rescheduling throughout the year because of kids added and subtracted from classes.
The district says they have enough money in reserves to make it thought the hiring and fine expenses this year and next, but after that they are concerned.
The state will soon have to foot the bill, which could be up to one billion dollars. To do that some programs could suffer, including art, music, and sports.
It's important to note, this isn't just an issue for Collier County. Lee County must hire 200 teachers to comply with the class size law.