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Edgecombe County Feeling Pinch Of Smaller Class Sizes

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley wants to reduce class size, but that is a tough goal for school systems adding students, but subtracting staff. One Edgecombe County school is feeling the pinch of the state's smaller class requirements.

A couple of days ago, substitute teacher Michelle House had no idea she would be teaching full-time for a while.

"Yesterday, I got a call, asking, 'Would I come in and sub?' because they haven't found a new teacher yet," she said.

House's classroom had to be set up practically overnight in a trailer when two dozen extra kids showed up for school at Bulluck Elementary near Rocky Mount.

"We had so many other teachers coming in to help us right at the last minute to get things up on the wall, to get the room straight and so everything is going real well," teacher assistant Lennie Holloway said.

In the past two days, about two dozen new students have registered at Bulluck. That is an entire class, according to the governor's new class-size limits. The state will pay for the new teachers' salary, but Edgecombe County will still have to shell out thousands to make the classroom work.

"We will locally pick up teachers' assistants as well as any kind of space that we have to bring in -- trailers, supplies, those kinds of things, so there's quite a bit of expense to a teaching position," said Edgecombe County Superintendent Dr. Steve Stone.

School officials said if anyone can make the new arrangement work, they can.

"We have tried everywhere we could to make everything economize, so it would fit well. We want everyone to be comfortable, we want the children to be in a safe, orderly environment, and I feel that we have provided that for them," Faye Taylor, principal at Bulluck Elementary School.

Other than the need for space, Bulluck Elementary teachers said everything went pretty smoothly for the first day of school.