Education

More News | |

Georgia drops class size limits

Waiver aims to ease pressure on cash-strapped districts

  • Follow Education

Jamie Dukes said he was sad to hear Monday that Georgia's State Board of Education had agreed to waive its maximum classroom sizes for next school year.

"As always, it's going to hurt the students," said Dukes, a parent of two Glenn Hills Elementary School pupils and the school's PTO president.

Dukes said he understands the financial reasons behind the state board's decision to give increased flexibility to local school boards, but he worries that as class sizes continue to grow, students who need extra teacher attention could get left behind.

"When you go from 24 to 34, or whatever it is, we may lose that kid through the loop," he said.

The decision Monday by the state board of education grants local school boards the authority to set their own class sizes without state approval.

"School districts have been financially devastated by the economy, so the state board took action to help districts balance their budgets," state board chairwoman Wanda Barrs said in a news release. "Increasing class size is never ideal, but a slight increase will allow systems to significantly conserve resources while managing through these difficult times."

Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said local school boards will be asked to pass a resolution stating that they plan to exceed the state's current class size maximums. In the resolution, he said, districts must note what class size maximums they plan to initiate for the coming year "so the public is fully aware of any of the changes the local board will make."

Cardoza said the boards will have the flexibility to adjust that figure throughout the school year.

Previously, school systems whose classes exceeded the state's size limit had two remedies: split a class up and hire another teacher or seek a waiver from the state to keep the class intact.

Richmond County school board member Jack Padgett said the waiver process caused a lot of administrative work that would now go away.

"I think it will probably make a smoother process because you don't have to ask for all these exceptions," he said.

In January, Richmond County's Board of Education sought a state waiver to increase its maximum level for elementary and English as a second language classes by two students. Because of larger classes sizes this past school year, Columbia County was able to eliminate more than 70 teaching positions.

Unrestricted class sizes this coming school year likely won't be a significant help to Columbia County school officials, but it might prove advantageous the next school year should the state board continue to honor the moratorium on limits, Superintendent Charles Nagle said.

Columbia County school board members will meet Wednesday and are expected to give tentative approval to a $165 million budget that includes millions in classroom cuts. The school system has lost about $21 million in state funding since 2007, including $6 million for next school year. Officials compensated for much of that by increasing class sizes and eliminating teaching and para-professional positions. A plan is already in place to cut almost 70 more parapro positions during the 2010-11 school year.

If more state cuts are coming for next school year, Nagle said, raising class sizes might prove more favorable than cutting more teachers or parapros.

In Richmond County, enrollment is expected to increase next school year, and a $16.7 million revenue shortfall will require that 35 more teaching positions be cut through attrition. Padgett said it's all but certain more class-size increases will be needed.

"I really think that (the state board's decision) is a blessing to us," he said, adding "I don't think the state had any choice."

Board member Jimmy Atkins said that though he's not in favor of completely doing away with classroom size maximums, but he does believe the schools need some flexibility during the budget crisis.

When it comes to setting classroom size limits locally, he said, "I know in Richmond County we would use good common sense."

Staff Writer Donnie Fetter contributed to this article.

Former maximums

State class size maximums before Monday's vote:

- Kindergarten: 18

- Kindergarten with full-time paraprofessional: 20

- Grades 1-3, no parapro: 21

- Grades 1-3 with a full-time parapro: 21

- Grades 4-5, English, math, science, social studies: 28

- Grades 6-8, English, math, science, social studies: 28

- Fine arts K-3: 33

- Fine arts and foreign language instructional programs, grades 6-8: 33

- Grades 9-12, English, math, social studies, science, foreign language: 32

- All other subjects grades 9-12: 35

- Vocational labs: 28

- Remedial, grades 6-12, no parapro: 18

- Remedial, grades 6-12, with a full-time parapro: 24

Source: Georgia Department of Education

Comments (14) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
disssman
6
Points
disssman 05/24/10 - 11:39 am
0
0
I would think that a

I would think that a reduction of 35 teachers would equate to less than a single student increase in very few classes. I mean come on how many teachers do we have and what percentage is 35 people? If we have leadership in the school, the size of the class will be a mute point.

corgimom
33198
Points
corgimom 05/24/10 - 12:03 pm
0
0
No, disssman, that's not

No, disssman, that's not true, especially in the early grades.

Common sense will tell you that it's easier to give personal attention to 20 kids rather than 30.

Mouichido85
0
Points
Mouichido85 05/24/10 - 12:31 pm
0
0
Kids need more attention

Kids need more attention between elementary and high school. Elementary because their brains are still grasping knowledge. High School so they can get the skills to prepare for college or technical school. 1 teacher versus 35 is a nightmare. If it comes down to it, the parents need to be more involve with their children.

andrew412
0
Points
andrew412 05/24/10 - 12:42 pm
0
0
@Dissman- the phrase is "moot

@Dissman- the phrase is "moot point", not "mute point". Moot point: a decision than no longer needs to be made because of a change in circumstances.

142
Points
Dan White 05/24/10 - 01:45 pm
0
0
30 well behaved kids is easy.

30 well behaved kids is easy. 30 kids and 10 of those 30 behavior problems is a nightmare.

cristinadh
6
Points
cristinadh 05/24/10 - 07:21 pm
0
0
Large class sizes is not a

Large class sizes is not a good environment for learning.. kids are not learning.. they are socializing even if the teacher has excellent classroom management and routines have been set.. it's not conducive to a learning environment!!

scoobynews
3855
Points
scoobynews 05/25/10 - 06:19 am
0
0
As an educator I have been in

As an educator I have been in both situations - Large class vs. smaller class. I can say that smaller classe sizes are the way to go. Today's instruction has changed with the times. It is no longer round robin reading or read and answer these questions on your own as it was in my day. Discussions and higher level thinking projects will now become a thing of the past. After having up to just 25 students in just one class this year it was a nightmare having about 3 of them be major discipline problems. Luckly by the end of the year, one had been moved to another class and the other two withdrew because of all the trouble they were getting into. In case many of you didn't know this that is a common practice. We see it often were a parent will withdraw their child if they get close to tribunal. They often go live with relatives elsewhere then return the following semester or school year when they have a clean slate. As stated though this was only one class out of five each larger. Weak administration is a problem also. Too often they want to be a "friend" to the students rather than what they use to be back 10 to 20 years ago. Kids were scared to go to the office now they ASK! Parents with school age children need to realize that often these behavior problems are hindering their children from a quality education. If you have 3 behavior problems per class and the teacher has to redirect each 3 times each that is 15 interruptions. And don't make me laugh by saying send them to the office because they will just sent them right back asking if I have called their parents. That is kind of hard when I am in the middle of teaching all the other kids. Administration today is trying to pass the buck. They don't want the hassles of dealing with discipline so they have laid it at their scapegoats feet - the teachers. Last time I checked they were the ones sitting in offices with the time and making the money to deal with such issues. In the end the STUDENTS are the ones losing out. Georgia is allowing this for one reason only - they were too stupid up in the state house to make sure there was enough money. If you think our leaders now are bad wait until this new crop of learned helpless group comes of age. Amazing how far we have come only to now go in reverse. Pretty sad.

Martinez
154
Points
Martinez 05/25/10 - 06:51 am
0
0
The only way large classrooms

The only way large classrooms will work is if teacher's have true authority to control their classroom. But if administration is just going to send disruptive kids back to class 10 minutes later or tie the teacher's hand altogether but not allowing him/her to even send them to the office - large classrooms will be a nightmare!

KSL
131325
Points
KSL 05/25/10 - 08:04 am
0
0
I think the headline needs to

I think the headline needs to be reworked.

corgimom
33198
Points
corgimom 05/25/10 - 08:08 am
0
0
Every word that scooby says

Every word that scooby says is true. Every single word.

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 05/25/10 - 02:55 pm
0
0
well this now gives the inept

well this now gives the inept and moronic school board the go-ahead to layoff more teachers/parapros in order to "save money" but wont touvh the sacred cow...high school sports

ecramer
0
Points
ecramer 05/27/10 - 02:17 pm
0
0
I am a 6th grade teacher with

I am a 6th grade teacher with 14 years of experience. Our class sizes are 36 students per class with predictions of 38 students in a class next year. Although I would love to spend time teaching and working with students individually, I find myself disciplining, writing referrals, and kicking students out of my classroom into other teachers' rooms in order to create an atmosphere conducive to learning on a daily basis. When an 11 year old has to decide between listening to a teacher or chatting with a peer and inch away because there is no room to move in the classroom of 36 students, the young student chooses their peer. This is beyond classroom management - 36 to 1 ratio in a 60 minute period- how many questions can I answer and how many students can I effectively help in this time period.

Little Lamb
46405
Points
Little Lamb 05/27/10 - 03:16 pm
0
0
A good teacher should be able

A good teacher should be able to impart knowledge from the front of a classroom to fifty students or twenty. The number of students shouldn't make a difference. It is the teacher's job to exhort the information, whether verbally, visually (writing on the board), or by assigning students to read (silently or out loud). The teacher cannot make the students learn; the teacher can only impart the material. Don't worry too much about the class size, ecramer.

ecramer
0
Points
ecramer 05/27/10 - 05:56 pm
0
0
Little lamb, my morning

Little lamb, my morning classes have pull out due to the gifted program. I have 24 students in two of my classes. I do not have discipline problems in the smaller groups. I have preferential seating choices for students who are having difficulty in their current seat. In my larger groups, there is no place to move. When our team decides to move a student so they can receive the benefit of a smaller group, the student verbally expresses the positive difference in decreased noise level and the ability to focus without constant peer interruptions. In my end of the year student surveys, my smaller groups felt safe and felt that I cared about their academic progress, while my larger groups ratings indicated students did not feel I cared about their progress nor did they enjoy their experience in my class as much as the smaller groups. I don't know about you, but a good teacher's job goes beyond imparting knowledge from the front of the classroom. If I do not engage my students and hold their attention, as I constantly move around my classroom, it does not matter what I impart because they will not retain the knowledge.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs