When politicians in Raleigh passed a law last year that reduced class sizes, they thought they were getting an easy political win. Some of them even ran campaign ads touting the reduction. Except there was one little problem…they didn’t provide the funding required for local districts to actually reduce class sizes. Now, with local districts facing the possibility of having to fire teachers to meet the mandate, the NC House has passed a bill to roll back some of those changes. While this is one fix to the problem, there is a easier one: just fund the class size reduction.
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.