About 15 Alachua County residents met at Hawthorne Middle and High School on Tuesday night to answer one question: What needs improvement in Alachua County schools?
Southern Legal Counsel hosted the meeting, and the next discussion is scheduled for Tuesday at Buchholz High School.
For reasons discussed at the meeting, SLC is going to trial for a lawsuit against the Florida State Board of Education on March 14.
Dan Boyd, a former Alachua County superintendent, said Florida provides $2,000 less per student than the average state.
The Florida Legislature mandates certain class sizes, computers for testing, school security, end-of-year exams and online classes, Boyd said. However, the state fails to fund its mandates, he said.
The requirements, coupled with a lack of funding, make it hard for students to meet the 24-credit-hour high school requirements and still participate in electives and extracurricular activities, Boyd said.
He said legislatures take money from lobbyists and pass laws without proper funding.
“I hope that we can prevail in this,” he said, referring to the SLC lawsuit. “It is something that can be done to help save public education, the route we’re taking now is absolute destruction.”
Libby Hartwell, the principal of Hawthorne Middle and High School, said scarce resources are putting students’ education at risk.
“Right now we are stretching as thin as we can,” she said.
Erin Scarborough, the president of the J.J. Finley Elementary School PTA, said the SLC lawsuit gives her and other like-minded people a voice.
“This won’t be the end, this is only the beginning,” she said.