Editorial: State must pay cost of new teachers its class size cuts demanded

Posted March 10

A first-grade class at Snow Hill Primary School in Greene County (Photo credit: Alex Granados/EducationNC)

A CBC Editorial: Friday, March 10, 2017; Editorial # 8133
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

We support the reduction of class sizes in the lower grades of North Carolina’s public schools. We’re concerned that funding for this plan is missing from Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget. It is a gap the General Assembly created and is obligated to fill. The governor and the General Assembly need to come together with a plan that fully pays for it.

Statewide costs for the required additional teaching slots alone is $300 million.

School systems throughout the state are in the midst of preparing budgets for the new school year. They’re trying to figure out how they will be able to create additional classroom space and hire more teachers.

In Wake County, for example, the total cost would be $320 million to add another 460 teachers and build 400 classrooms. In Moore County, the district would need to hire 36 more teachers and add mobile classrooms, costing $2.9 million.

Those concerns are real – so significant that already 38 school boards around the state have passed resolutions calling on the General Assembly to, at a minimum, relax the class size standards so they can avoid cutting other teachers.

The House of Representatives recently passed, and sent to the Senate, a bill that provides local schools a bit more flexibility in meeting the class size requirements. It remains under consideration in the Senate.

Gov. Cooper last week said that any state-mandated cuts in class size should be coupled with the funding to back it. He’s right and he says he is willing to do that.

Cooper should send the legislature his proposal to address the issue. It may be a problem legislators made, but he should show them how to fix it. If legislators don’t like it, they need to sit down and work with the governor to come up with a consensus solution that fully funds the mandate.

The best and most appropriate relief is to back up the classroom-size mandate without sacrificing any other instruction currently offered or teaching positions that now exist. Additionally, there should be more avenues, perhaps through state lottery funds, to help local schools pay for the added classrooms that are needed.

The legislature needs to fund laws it passes. That would be fair to the schools, students and taxpayers.


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