Last May the flood gates were thrown open when the Georgia State Board of Education voted that in this current economic crisis school districts could adjust their class sizes however they saw fit.
“Described as an emergency response to a worsening financial climate, The 9-2 vote means that Georgia school districts can raise class size by 5five, 10, 15 students — or as many students as they choose — without seeking a waiver from the board or the Department of Education.”
“The vote essentially guts the prevailing state rules that mandated 23 students or fewer in k-3 and 28 in grades 4-8.”
Maureen went on to interview the districts about their plans after the vote. Here’s what they told her they were planning to do as of May:
“* City of Atlanta: “The district’s budget for FY11 has already been developed and approved by the School Board. It includes slight increases in average class sizes for all grade levels, but the resultant class sizes remain within state limits. The district does not anticipate having to use the state’s recent lessening of class size restrictions option at this point,” said spokesman Keith Bromery.
* Clayton County: “As of today, the only class-size change Clayton County Public Schools is planning to implement for 2010-11 is increasing our kindergarten class size from 23 to 25 students. Each kindergarten classroom will be staffed by a teacher and a paraprofessional,” said Clayton schools spokesman Charles White.
* Cobb County: “In Cobb, we anticipated the need to increase class sizes for the coming school year and planned accordingly by seeking waivers last fall and earlier this spring,” said Cobb schools spokesman Jay Dillon. “We do not anticipate a need to increase class sizes further than what we’ve already requested. In fact, after a preliminary review of our current status and the allotment of teachers for next school year, we are confident that the worst fears about overflowing classrooms will not happen in Cobb. Many classes will see a marginal increase of two or three, and in some cases four of five students, but we don’t foresee any overflowing classrooms or unmanageable situations.”
* DeKalb County: “Our budget is already set, and we are raising class sizes by two students,” said DeKalb schools spokesman Dale Davis. “We will take this new state policy under advisement.”
* Fayette County: “We will not take advantage of the new rule for increasing class sizes. We have already set our class sizes to the rule that was implemented last year,” said Fayette schools spokeswoman Melinda Berry-Dreisbach.
* Fulton County: “We have no plans to go to the board and say that we have been given carte blanche now and let’s raise class size even higher,” said Fulton schools spokeswoman Allison Toller. Fulton parents can expect class sizes of 23 or less in the early grades and 30 students starting in fourth, she said. However, if the system was faced with one or two students arriving last minute and pushing class sizes beyond those limits, Toller said Fulton then might take advantage of the new flexibility.
* Gwinnett County: Under a flexibility contract, Gwinnett is not affected by the state board policy as it sets its own class sizes. (The system has announced plans to raise class size next year by one student.)”
So I want know how have the schools done when left to their own devices to set class sizes? Are your child’s class sizes larger than last year? Are they out-of-control large? Are they equivalent to whatever you district is quoted as saying above? If large are they in the process of hiring more teachers to take the overflow?
We have lots of teachers in our community so I am very interested to hear from them what is the optimum class size for the different grades? (I’m sure what works for K is very different than what works for fourth or seventh or eleventh.) At what numbers should parents worry that their kids’ classes are just way too big?