Tuesday , 23 January 2018
Breaking News

Class size changes and the unintended consequences

As many of you are aware, last year the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation which changed the funding formula and class size restrictions for elementary schools. An apparent unintended consequence of this legislation was that the law removed the flexibility for school districts to use teacher allotments to hire “specials”-music, art, drama, Spanish, technology, and PE teachers for elementary schools, since those positions do not receive any specific funding from the state.

A few weeks ago, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a potential resolution to this dilemma- House Bill 13. Not only did it pass, it passed unanimously from both parties.

HB 13 would allow districts to go up to 3 students above the class size requirement and then use those funds saved to fund the “specials” as much as possible. This flexibility would allow our district to continue to provide elementary PE, music, art and drama as we have in the past. Below, you can see the current requirements along with proposed requirements through HB 13.

Current Class Sizes

Grade Max District

Average Class Size

Max Individual

Class Size

Kindergarten 21 24
Grade 1 21 24
Grades 2-3 21 24

2017-18 Class Sizes

Grade Max District

Average Class Size

Max Individual

Class Size

Kindergarten 18 21
Grade 1 16 19
Grades 2-3 17 20

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article127291144.html#storylink=cpy

That bill has been sent to the North Carolina Senate, but there is where the new problem lies. The Senate has sent the bill to the Rules Committee, and at this time, it appears that is where it may stay. If the Senate does not pass HB 13, then all school districts across North Carolina will have tough decisions to make. Without this flexibility, there would be no funding from the state to provide those “specials.”   For some perspective on this, you may be interested in this great article from EdNC or this article from the Raleigh News and Observer

In Newton-Conover, the new requirements, without flexibility to exceed the class size limit, would require the district to hire up to 9 additional K-3 teachers. Those positions, would eliminate the funding the currently pays for elementary PE and elementary “specials.”

Additionally, it would require our district to find 9 new elementary classrooms. This would require moving out computer labs, possibly displacing ESL and EC classes to smaller spaces to make room for new K-3 classes.  We would also possibly need to eliminate some training spaces to make room for ESL and EC.

Again, if HB 13 were approved by the Senate and voted into law, it would still reduce class sizes, but would also resolve the flexibility issue needed by schools to fund specialized enhancement classes.  

Obviously, in Newton-Conover, we are exploring many options and scenarios to combat the possibility of HB 13 not passing. Even with best case options, we would likely still have to reduce art, music, drama and PE in elementary schools below the current allotment levels.

Hopefully, the Senate will take up this bill and approve it. If you would like to speak to the Senator for Catawba County regarding your thoughts on the matter, he can be found here.  

About David Stegall

Dr. David Stegall is the Superintendent for Newton-Conover City Schools. He previously served Newton-Conover as the Associate Superintendent, and previous to that as the Director of Elementary Curriculum, ESL (English as a second language) and AIG (academically and intellectually gifted). In February, 2012 he was named the Outstanding Young Educator for North Carolina by NCASCD and was a National Finalist for the ASCD Outstanding Young Educator Award. In 2016 Dr. Stegall was named a National Superintendent to Watch by NSPRA. Dr. Stegall joined the Newton-Conover City School system from Iredell-Statesville Schools in July 2007. He has presented at the state, national and international levels on professional learning communities and teacher empowerment. Dr. Stegall received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; a master's degree in education from Gardner-Webb University; an education specialist degree in education administration from Appalachian State University; and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from ASU.

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