Guilford Board of Education Requests Funding for Class Size Changes
Citing the importance of art, music and physical education in a well-rounded education as well as the $16.6 million price tag to Guilford County Schools (GCS) if a current class-size law is not changed, the Guilford County Board of Education passed a resolution requesting the state fully fund any changes to class sizes.
The resolution also asks for more flexibility in determining class sizes, site by site, for each classroom in elementary school, and that any changes in class sizes be made with sufficient time for planning, staffing and up-fitting to serve students.
The resolution comes in response to a budget appropriation bill that will go into effect for the next school year. The law does not allow the individual class K-3 class size to exceed the funded allotment ratio by more than three students.
No additional funds are attached to the new law. That means to pay for the additional teachers needed to fill the requirement, GCS would need to cut art, music and physical education in some schools, increase class sizes in grades four through 12, or find an additional $16.6 million dollars.
The resolution states, “without funding the additional teaching positions required by the lower class sizes, the school system is faced with eliminating teachers who are essential to the educational program in order to pay for additional K-3 teachers.”
That’s assuming there is space in schools to accommodate additional classrooms. As noted in the resolution “many elementary school buildings cannot accommodate the increased number of classes that would be required by the legislation, and some elementary school campuses cannot accommodate additional permanent or temporary classroom space, potentially resulting in significant strains on school facilities and disruption to school communities and families.”
The board also notes that the additional cost does not include the expense of up-fitting classrooms, providing supplies and other resources necessary to providing additional resources.
Finally, the board expressed concern over the ability of every district in the state to hire teachers to fill the positions. Considering a 17 percent enrollment decline in North Carolina’s education preparation programs since 2010 and North Carolina ranking 41st in the nation for teacher pay, recruiting teachers has become more challenging.
"We are in favor of lowering class sizes, and therefore appreciate the discussion of this issue by our legislators,” says Board Chair Alan Duncan. “We understand that the intention of this law is to provide a better education for students, however, it will not be effective in achieving its intended purpose without the flexibility, the funding and the necessary time for implementation to meet the needs of all of our students."
Source: Guilford County Schools (GCS)