Class Size Limits Grades K-3
We encourage you talk with your school district leadership to see if they have analyzed the impact this provision could have on your school district.
In North Carolina, our state provides teacher allotments in all grades and sets class size limits in grades K-3 that allow enough flexibility for local school districts to fund teachers in the arts, health, physical education, world languages, and other special area subjects that are usually taught by someone other than the classroom teacher.
There is no separate allotment for teachers of these special area subjects, and local school districts fund them within the flexibility between the number of teachers allotted and the class size limits in place.
Why is this a concern today? It matters because a special provision included in the 2016 state budget bill will substantially end that flexibility between class size requirements and teacher-student ratios set out in the allotments in grades K-3. Without that flexibility, districts lose their opportunity to hire teachers in these special area subjects.
Under this provision, for example, the system average for kindergarten classes could not exceed 18 students because teachers are allotted at the ratio of one for every 18 kindergartners (currently the required average for all kindergarten classes within a school district is 1:21). For first grade it would be 16. For second and third grade, that would be 17. There will be no waiver process or flexibility allowed.
At the local level, our district leaders are estimating that they will not have available positions to employ the key teachers that instruct our students in the arts, health, physical education, world languages and other special area subjects. Cumberland estimates that they would need to hire over 100 or more special area subject teachers with local funds because of this change. Buncombe estimates that this change would cut around 50 special teacher positions. It is important also to note that the loss of the special area subject teachers will have an impact on the required planning period legislatively required for all classroom teachers.
This provision has the potential to stretch the limits of school classroom space and to provide students with fewer subjects within their school day.