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Schools get OK to raise class sizes

POSTED: January 14, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Dawson County educators are heralding the state Department of Education’s recent decision to relax class-size limits to help school districts cope with budget issues.

  

The Jan. 7 decision allows public schools to add up to two more students to most elementary and middle school classes.

  

The class-size waiver, which is temporary, applies only to the 2009-10 school year.

  

“This will give us flexibility to work with some of the budget problems that we have,” said Doris Cook, a Dawson County school board member. “This waiver will help us out the most at the elementary level.”

  

The state limit of students per classroom is 28.

  

Dawson County School Superintendent Nicky Gilleland said the local system has been able to stay below the limit for a number of years.

  

“This will allow us a little more room to grow so that we won’t have to add more classes and teachers as we go along,” Gilleland said.

  

“Creating more classes for new students and bringing in new teachers always disrupts learning,” he continued. “This temporary rule will not only save us time, but also a substantial amount of money.”

  

Gilleland acknowledged that some teachers and parents have worried about the quality of learning if more students are added.

  

“We are going to attempt to keep each class as small as possible,” he said. “We want to stay between 24-26 students per classroom after additional students are enrolled, which is still below the maximum number according to the state.”

  

According to the state’s waiver, the following areas in kindergarten through eighth grade can add up to two students: language arts; science; social studies; math; remedial education; and EIP classes.

  

E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at elizabeth@dawsonnews.com.

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