I understand the crisis facing state schools, but raising class size to 40 students, as discussed in Cobb today, seems a solution that will only create more problems in the long run. I just don’t know how much a teacher can accomplish with 40 students.
If these scenarios are the only alternative, I have to believe Cobb taxpayers would rather pay higher taxes. I can’t imagine a premier school system like Cobb accepting classes of 40 students or criminals tending the school lawns.
Or is this the new reality of Georgia education? If so, we’re selling our kids short.
According to the AJC:
Cobb County might have to raise classroom sizes to 40 students, cut hundreds of teachers, cut bus routes and use prisoners to maintain school grounds to slash its budget next year.
At a hastily called Wednesday meeting, the Cobb County School Board discussed all of these possibilities, foremost how to handle raising class sizes to the maximum, in order to address an expected $137.7 million deficit in the coming year’s budget.
Board members also talked about making children walk to school if they lived within 1.5 miles of the school. That could cut 200 buses and about $5.6 million, Cobb County School Superintendent Fred Sanderson said.
“If it’s between cutting a teacher in the classroom and cutting a bus route, Cobb County kids are going to walk,” school board member John Abraham said.
With some reservation, board members spoke about using prisoners to maintain school grounds, though not violent felons or child molesters.
“Guys, you have to think outside of the box,” school board member Alison Bartlett said as Abraham quietly left the room while the discussion unfolded.
School board chairwoman Lynnda Crowder-Eagle suggested using people who need to perform community service.
It was determined the biggest savings would come from increasing average class size. That could mean cutting hundreds of teaching positions, Sanderson pointed out.
“Let’s go to the big gorilla in the room,” school board member John Crooks said, referring to the classroom issue.
Raising classroom sizes on average to the maximum allowed by the state would save about $53 million, Sanderson said.
Bartlett cautioned that the numbers the school district has released on the student-teacher ratios are overly optimistic because they represent averages. While the school district said the maximum high school classroom size would be one teacher for every 32 pupils, Bartlett argued that’s not really the case.
“By gosh, they need to understand that it’s an average,” Bartlett said. “For English, science, math and social studies classes, we’re looking at putting 40-plus students in there.”
That would reduce the teacher to a disciplinarian, she said, adding, “I may have 45 kids in a classroom. That is awful.”
“If we could find another way to cut $53 million, we’re all ears,” Abraham said.