Though class sizes in Columbia County might increase across most grade levels next school year, pre-kindergarten classes are exempt.
"This is not a serve-all-students model," school system Director of Elementary Education Michele Sherman said of the pre-k program. "We serve as many (pupils) as we can, and then the others have to go to private centers."
Enough lottery funding exists to conduct 20 pre-k classes, serving 400 pupils.
"Once those slots are full, they're full," Sherman said.
State rules limit the number of pupils per class to 20. Local school systems aren't even allowed to submit waivers to exceed that maximum.
The same is not true for other classes.
Class size limits increased by two pupils this school year, allowing 20 pupils in kindergarten classes, 21 in first through third grades, 28 in fourth through eighth grades, and 30 in high school classes.
A similar increase in class size limits is expected for next school year.
Larger class sizes lessen the number of teachers needed by the school system.
School trustees recently gave tentative approval to a plan that eliminates 11 full-time and one part-time teaching position next school year.
Though officials expect pupil enrollment to grow by at least 500 next year, the position cuts were necessary because of an expected shortfall in state funding. Eliminating those positions will save the school system about $750,000 in payroll expenses.
Last year, school officials decided to eliminate 100 positions, including about 70 teacher and paraprofessional positions, to save about $5.5 million.
Those positions were lost even though the number of pupils grew by more than 500 to an overall student population of nearly 23,000.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.