North Carolina class-size proposal phases in lower caps

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The bill is scheduled Thursday for its third and final House vote today, which, if favorable, would send it to the N.C. Senate for action. "I'm going to want more for the community", Donovan said.

"We are pleased to finally arrive at this solution that we believe gives administrators, teachers, parents and students certainty about what will happen next school year, while making sure taxpayers are getting the smaller classes that they paid for", said Sen.

But, in the following year, districts would face a stiff mandate that they cut average class sizes to 18 students in kindergarten, 16 students in first grade and 17 students in second and third grade.

Meanwhile, Republican legislators rebuffed calls from Democrats Tuesday morning that they slow the phase-in of new class size regulations included in the revised House Bill 13.

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The measure instead would phase in those reductions over two years, meeting those lower classroom sizes by fall 2018. "Do you feel like the legislature knows that by not acting this year, that puts us in a hard if not an untenable position to plan for capital?" asked board member Jim Martin. Board member Bill Fletcher added district leaders will have to be creative with how WCPSS uses space once HB13 is passed.

"The proposal would also strengthen accountability measures to ensure state tax dollars meant to reduce class size are used for that objective", the statement said.

The North Carolina Justice Center, a liberal-leaning group, estimated in a report that school districts statewide would have to locate between 3,000 and 5,400 teachers in grades K-3 to comply with the class size change.

Education groups, teachers and parents were anxious that without change districts would have to locate money elsewhere to meet lower class sizes by eliminating art, music and physical education instructors or increasing class sizes in other grades. In Tuesday's budget work session, Merrill said he would hope local districts would be invited to shape the format of the report in order to ensure WCPSS can accurately transfer its data to the state.

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Blount said that the staff of Clinton City Schools will have no problem providing the information when requested.

Critics said the bill would disproportionately harm African-Americans who live near large-scale hog operations and are subjected to acrid smells, flies, buzzards and other annoyances.

While Clinton City Schools superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount says it is still too early to determine the full impact of the revision, he is certain changes will afford the system the opportunity to best serve the students.

But money is not the only issue in complying with the class-size reduction mandate.

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