Smaller class sizes sound great on the surface, however without the proper funding and space to provide for an increased need for classrooms and teachers this spells cuts to important enrichment programs.
Some North Carolina elementary school families may be in for a surprise when they start a new school year Monday and find classrooms of more than 30 students and art and music classrooms converted into regular classrooms.
State lawmakers lowered class sizes for kindergarten through third grade this year by one student. The need to meet the new requirement is causing some elementary schools to make changes this year such as sacrificing their art and music classrooms to have “art on a cart” with teachers bringing their supplies into classrooms.
Changes at elementary schools will be more widespread in 2018 when average class sizes drop by as much as an additional four students in some grade levels. In Wake County alone it will lead to the loss of 9,500 classroom seats at a time when 2,500 additional students in kindergarten through third-grade are expected by 2021.
Some options that have been mentioned for 2018 in Wake County include adding trailers, moving students to schools that have space, changing what grade levels are offered at some elementary schools and changing some schools to a year-round calendar.
“This is another case where it’s almost that the cure is worse than the disease,” Wake school board member Jim Martin said at a meeting earlier this month. “The alleged reason for this classroom-size legislation was because we wanted better instruction, we wanted smaller class sizes so there could be more opportunities for children, etc. etc.
“The cure is now saying, ‘We’re going to actually have to cram you in because there are not spaces.’ Because there are not spaces your extra opportunities like music and art are going to be restricted.”