Wake schools scrambling over crowded classrooms

Posted December 16, 2009


— Wake County's school board has a new challenge: reducing classroom sizes during tough budget times.

The Board of Education on Tuesday learned the state did not grant waivers for 329 oversized kindergarten to third-grade classes.

North Carolina law allows for 18 students for every one adult in those grades.

Classroom size new issue for Wake Classroom size new issue for Wake

Most years, the Wake County Public School System applies for a waiver so teachers can work around the rule, but this year, the state Department of Public Instruction rejected that request, leaving them in violation of the law.

This has many schools scrambling and the salary of the school system's superintendent on the line.

Principal Lisa Cruz says first-grade classes at Jeffrey's Grove Elementary School in Raleigh have closer to an average of 29 students this school year.

"We've got first- and second-grade classes that have more students than we would like," Cruz said.

She hired a part-time teacher to help, but there is not enough money in the budget to bring on the full-time staff needed to put the school in compliance.

"We'll do what we need to do to comply with what the state tells us we need to do," she said. "It's going to mean a little bit of shuffling of kids, and we have to figure that out."

Some principals said they are surprised that the state did not grant them a waiver this year, especially in light of state and local budget cuts.

The DPI states the school system needs to make changes. If not, Wake County school Superintendent Del Burns' state salary could be withheld.

Many schools are shifting teaching assistants and relying on volunteers while they figure out the next step.

East Garner Elementary School Principal James Overman said the process is tricky, especially while trying to balance year-round student schedules. He said the situation would not affect the quality of education the children receive.

"We are working hard and our staff is working hard to ensure that students are getting the best education possible, that there are other things in place to help assist with class size overages (and) that student needs are being met," he said.

A DPI spokeswoman said that, in most cases, the county and the state can reach an agreement before penalties are incurred.

The school system said it is trying to find additional resources to meet the requirements.


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  • poohperson2000 Dec 17, 2009

    time, what is a track change at this point if they are going to pull MYR out from under us anyways.. WHO cares anymore? They should have to comply with the law and waivers should be granted to no school district for more than one year. They knew they had a problem and did not fix it.

  • poohperson2000 Dec 17, 2009

    Eagle read again, classes are too large and the state usually grants wake a waiver. Wake does not get the waiver they need to redistribute classrooms until the student to teacher ratio is back where it belongs. There is no excuse for it since mandatory year round was to make the needed room.

  • teacher2000 Dec 17, 2009

    I love when people post without understanding the information. The letter from the State BoE states that even with budget cuts, the number of teacher allotments and the maximum number of students allowed in K-3 classes UNCHANGED. The State grants WCPSS a certain number of teachers based on the student populations, which varies across the grade levels. WCPSS is left to its own to spread those positions across the schools which makes one wonder why some schools have small class sizes and others have class sizes well over the maximum allowed by law. Why are the class sizes not equitable, by grade levelacross the schools? As to it being too late in the school year, the school system has until the end of the second month to report its class sizes, and then has until February 1 to report all exceptions. It's never too late to restructure class size when students are in classes almost double what the law states.

  • ncmidteacher Dec 17, 2009

    Atalost- I Agree 100 Percent!!

    I feel it necessary to re-post your post:
    How about requiring copies of parent's 2008 tax returns in order to receive a free education. That should cut down on a LOT of students.

  • Phrostbite Dec 17, 2009

    The state should've allowed the waiver with notice that it would not going forward. It's late in the year to be restructuring classes!

  • time4real Dec 17, 2009

    see how many care about this? oh they will, when the MYR schools in this group of 327 reassign their kids to a different track right after the holidays. watch and see!

  • AtALost Dec 16, 2009

    How about requiring copies of parent's 2008 tax returns in order to receive a free education. That should cut down on a LOT of students.

  • clickclackity2 Dec 16, 2009

    The new school board will eat their divisive words and selfish agendas soon enough. Another poster mentioned parents volunteering...well the new school board members won't have that, they don't even like the kids getting out an hour early on one day a week. School is simply their daycare.

    Hopefully, they won't leave Wake County schools in total disrepair before they realize it.

  • As if .... Dec 16, 2009

    The mess de jour for Wake county is getting to be a real hoot for us Yankees that moved down here for the outstanding school system. NOT. What a joke this place is becoming. I just wish we had the money to move again. And yes please do comment , i need a good laugh.

  • timothycapwell Dec 16, 2009

    Payback to the new board members. Believe it. The liberals entrenched in the "education" of our children will never go away easily.