When classes start next school year, some Columbia County pupils might encounter a few more classmates in their rooms.
To help offset massive spending cuts in the state budget for education, Gov. Sonny Perdue allowed schools to increase the maximum number of students allowed in each class.
With the increase, many school officials, including those in Columbia County, are packing more children into classrooms as a means to employ fewer teachers.
Superintendent Charles Nagle has said that the school system is facing a $5 million cut in state revenues.
In a move to save about $3 million, the school board recently eliminated nearly 100 jobs, including 25 teaching positions and 23 paraprofessionals in elementary schools.
However, the cuts shouldn't alarm parents, Associate Superintendent Lauren Williams said.
"I don't think parents will notice any change in services provided or to the education of their children in those early grades," Williams said.
School officials set teacher allotments based on class sizes of 20 in kindergarten, 21 in first through third grades, and 28 in fourth and fifth grades. The most any of those classes might increase is by two pupils, Williams said.
Williams emphasized that the size increases will not affect curriculum or instruction.
"The only thing we're doing differently is that if those numbers hit that (allotted class size), then we're not going to necessarily start a new class," she said. "We'll let it go up by a couple beyond that before hiring a new teacher."
Because pre-kindergarten is a state-run program, the maximum class size is 20, she said.
Also, kindergarten through third-grade classes will have a paraprofessional, making the adult-to-pupil ratio in each class one for every 10.
"We really feel like it's not going to hugely impact the classroom," Williams said.
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