Class size cut puts some courses at risk; lawmakers seek fix

Posted January 27

— School leaders around North Carolina warn that nonessential courses, such as art and music, may have to be cut next year because of a state law reducing class sizes in early grades.

Lawmakers added a provision in the state budget last summer requiring schools to make steep cuts in class sizes for kindergarten through third grade, starting next fall. Kindergarten classes, for example, would have to shrink from a maximum of 24 students to 19.

Some local school administrators said the change would force them to find money to hire more teachers and to expand schools to hold the additional classes. Others said they would likely have to get rid of non-core areas, including music, art and physical education, and increase class sizes in fourth grade and above to free up teaching positions and space.

To remedy what they call an unintended consequence of the budget provision, lawmakers are now looking at putting the class size cut on hold or giving schools more flexibility to exceed it.

More than two dozen House members filed a bill Wednesday that would allow schools to go over the cap by up to three students per class. That bill could be on the House flood as early as next week.

"County commissioners are getting ready in March to start their budgets. They've got to know the impact as far as local dollars will be. School systems will be starting their budget next month. So, everybody needs to know. We need to have this thing clarified," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph.

Tillman said he believes school districts aren't using state funding properly. Lawmakers are studying how the state pays for teachers and how districts are using the money.

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  • Mike Voiland Jan 28, 2017
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    The GOP-led NCGA has been all about "unintended consequence" since 2011.

    They didn't figure the immense negative economic consequences when they passed HB2. The paid for that bungle by losing the executive mansion last November.

    They also didn't consider adverse consequences in the form of court litigation costs (now estimated at over $8M in tax dollars) when they passed court-declared unconstitutional laws relating to voting suppression, gerrymandering, civil rights, teacher tenure, protesting at the LOB, and forced indoctrination of pregnant women undergoing ultrasounds. And those costs are increasing by the day as other cases run their course.