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Board OKs budget
Size of classes may rise
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Previous state class size maximums:

- Kindergarten: 18

- Kindergarten with full-time paraprofessional: 20

- Grades 1-3, no parapro: 21

- Grades 1-3 with a full-time parapro: 21

- Grades 4-5, English, math, science, social studies: 28

- Grades 6-8, English, math, science, social studies: 28

- Fine arts K-3: 33

- Fine arts and foreign language instructional programs, grades 6-8: 33

- Grades 9-12, English, math, social studies, science, foreign language: 32

- All other subjects grades 9-12: 35

- Vocational labs: 28

- Remedial, grades 6-12, no parapro: 18

- Remedial, grades 6-12, with a full-time parapro: 24

 

Source: Georgia Department of Education

A drastic reduction in state funding has local school officials looking at ways to save while still providing a quality education for students.

  

The Dawson County Board of Education tentatively approved its 2010-11 budget last week.

  

The $34.6 million spending plan is about 4.5 percent, or $1.63 million, less than the board budgeted for the previous school year.

  

Much of the difference is due to drastic reductions in state austerity funding cuts, more than $2 million. The school system also saw a $2.5 million state reduction last year.

  

The system has also seen about a 4 percent decrease in local tax revenue.

Superintendent Keith Porter said increasing class sizes is one way to compensate for funding losses.

  

If revenues continue to drop, the board could consider staff work schedule reductions, reducing the number of days students go to school and increasing the millage rate would be last resorts according to the board’s list of options.

The board approved a resolution Monday to increase class sizes, following the state board of education’s recent decision to remove such limitations.

  

Raising the size of classes will be a savings to the system, Porter said.

  

“We are going to be able to open the new Riverview Elementary School with fewer elementary school teachers than we had last year,” he said.

  

Assistant Superintendent Rick Brown said Monday night that class sizes will not increase drastically. Some may see no increase at all.

  

“Don’t panic,” Brown said. “We’ve asked our administrators to keep it basically the same as they’ve been doing.”

  

Under the new guidelines, kindergarten through third-grade classes can have a maximum of 25 students.

  

Fourth and fifth grade can have a maximum of 32 students per class.

  

Sixth through 12th grades are capped at 35 students in regular education classes, like English, math, science and social studies. 

  

There are school systems that have gone to more than 40 students in each class, Brown said.

  

“We never reached 35 in any of them,” he said. “We may have 31, maybe 32. We’ve asked our leadership to try and keep it within what we’ve been working with.”

  

The budget also includes five to six furlough days for employees, depending on positions held.

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