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Board OKs Increase In County Class Sizes

Class sizes will increase in the county’s classrooms in the future, thanks to a new policy on class size approved by a 7-1 vote during Monday’s school board meeting. Board member Fay Satterfield cast the lone dissenting vote. The current policy, adopted by the school board on Nov. 11, 2002, set class sizes in grades K and one at 18 to 21 students, grades two and three at 19 to 23 students and grades four through six at 20 to 25 students, according to Deputy Superintendent Larry Clark.

That policy also indicated if class sizes exceeded those established limits, teacher aides or additional teachers would be considered, Clark said.

Under the new policy, the pupil-teacher ratio in kindergarten classes would be 24 to one, with no class being larger than 29 students. If the average daily membership in any kindergarten class exceeds 24 pupils, a teacher’s aide will be assigned to the class.

The pupil-teacher ratio in grades one, two and three would be 24 to one, with no class being larger than 30 students.

In grades four, five and six the pupil-teacher ratio would be 25 to one with no class being larger than 35 students.

In English classes in grades six through 12 the pupil-teacher ratio would be 24 to one.

In addition, instructional personnel will be assigned in a manner that produces school-wide ratios of students in average daily membership to full-time equivalent teaching positions of 21 to one in the middle school and high school.

Clark said the new class sizes are based on the state’s Standards of Quality funding formula. The deputy superintendent also said another pertinent point the school board should consider in its consideration of the new class size policy is that the Virginia General Assembly is considering raising pupil-teacher ratios.

“It was the opinion of staff that if the people in Richmond are considering raising pupil-teacher ratios by one in the funding, that our policy certainly needed to reflect what the funding formula in Richmond is as prescribed by the Standards of Quality,” Clark said.

“This is in no way an attempt to overload classes,” Clark explained. “It is simply an attempt to bring pupil-teacher ratios in line with what will be the funding formula that we will have to live with as indicated by the people in Richmond.”

Clark said the current pupil-teacher ratio in the county’s schools is approximately 18 to one. He said two factors that have a tremendous impact on the school system’s pupil-teacher ratio are the relative size of the county’s elementary schools and the number of special education children enrolled in the school system where class enrollments are strictly regulated.