In Raleigh, North Carolina parents, teachers, and public school students are fighting back against too-big class sizes and lack of funding.
A recent rally that lasted nearly two hours in subfreezing temperatures hoped to raise awareness about an issue that could put school districts throughout the state in a difficult and unfair position of having to cut arts, physical education, and library programs.
The General Assembly passed a law in 2016 that set the average class size for kindergarten, first, second, and third grades to be no more than 17 students. Those who participated in the rally were upset that lawmakers had not provided school districts with the necessary funding to meet the lower goal.
Unfortunately, many schools in North Carolina, as well as other states, are facing issues within their school districts. Common issues include reducing class sizes, finding funds to hire more teachers, and focusing on diversity to make a school’s identity multinational in order to help students in the globalization of today’s society.
Expenses to meet these lower class sizes are a major concern. Charlotte-Mecklenburg school leaders announced that it could cost $23 million to hire the 353 more K-3 teachers needed to meet the desired class sizes. In Wake County, it would cost $24.6 million in order to hire 431 new teachers to reduce class sizes.
These costs would be in addition to other actions like increasing class sizes in grade four through 12 to be able to shift more teaching positions to lower grades, limiting how many students are allowed to go to certain schools, and combining children of different grades into the same class to have two classes share the same room.
Furthermore, some school districts have said that they may be required to lay off art, music, physical education, and computer science teachers in order to have the necessary funding to pay for teachers needed to teach kindergarten through third grade.
Governor Roy Cooper is urging the General Assembly to take the pressure off of the school districts and provide funding for the required smaller classes.
“I believe smaller class size can be a good idea, but we can’t force this on our schools without the funding to do it,” Cooper explained.
According to Senate Leader Phil Berger, Senate Republicans will be continuing to work with the school systems to provide parents clarification about what will happen next school year while ensuring taxpayers are getting the smaller class sizes they’ve paid for.