Parents and education leaders throughout the state are urging legislators to make changes to a law that mandates lower class sizes in early grades, and have scheduled a rally Wednesday afternoon near the legislative building in Raleigh.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed the measure last year that lowers the class-size “caps” for grades K-3 in effort to improve education in the state.
Critics say it's an unfunded mandate, and the money and space to make the changes simply don't exist.
A new proposal called House Bill 13 would allow districts more flexibility to meet the state's new education requirements. For example, they could add up to three more students in a classroom.
President of the North Carolina Association of Educators Mark Jewell says if it doesn't pass, districts will be forced to make some tough decisions.
“School districts are now looking at, especially in Forsyth County and Guilford, laying off teacher assistants. They're looking at increasing class sizes in fourth and fifth grade up to somewhere around 40 per class,” says Jewell. “It's detrimental if they don't fix this.”
School officials hope for quick passage of House Bill 13 because budgets are due in May. Republican lawmakers say they want to have time to study the issue further.
A new report from the left-leaning North Carolina Justice Center says that the state-mandated smaller class sizes in elementary schools will cost North Carolina districts as much as $388 million more per year in operating costs.
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