On Monday, December 12, 2017, the Orange County School Board adopted the following resolution regarding K-3 class size reduction implementation:
Whereas, pursuant to S.L. 2017-9, local school districts in 2018-19 are required to set class size averages in grades K-3 that equal the State classroom teacher funding ratios and will have to meet more restrictive individual class size maximums across those grade levels; and
Whereas, equalizing the average and funded K-3 class size ratios will result in the loss of flexibility to generate State funding for teaching positions in program enhancement courses like art, music, physical education; and
Whereas, in Section 2.1 of S.L. 2017-197, the General Assembly declared its intent to create a new funding stream for program enhancement teachers starting in 2018-19; and
Whereas, even if this funding is provided, there are still classroom space and staffing challenges in implementing the new K-3 class size requirements which are outlined below; and
Whereas, an immediate reduction in the K-3 class size maximum will worsen what is already a very difficult environment for school districts in finding licensed and qualified teachers to fill classrooms, most likely leading to more classrooms taught by long-term substitutes or lateral-entry teachers, who do not have the pedagogy and classroom management training necessary for this age group; and
Whereas, the immediate reduction in individual class size maximums in grades K-3 would in turn increase the number of physical classrooms required at these grade levels, adding to already staggering backlogs of school capital needs; it may become necessary to purchase more modular classrooms or incur substantial additional costs building more classrooms; and
Whereas, space is limited to implement the class size reductions it may become necessary to convert art and music rooms into traditional classrooms and have those teachers travel from room to room with a cart to deliver program enhancement classes in traditional classrooms; but this doesn’t work well with unique aspects of art and music education; and
Whereas, art classes use messy supplies such as paint and clay while music classes generate loud sounds that, without adequate sound proof walls, will travel to neighboring classrooms and disrupt learning in those classes; and
Therefore, be it resolved that the Orange County School Board Of Education respectfully requests the General Assembly slow implementation of the K-3 class size reductions outlined in S.L. 2017-9 through a multi-year phase-in that allows time for the legislature and school districts to address the challenges delineated above.
Adopted by the Orange County Board of Education on December 11, 2017.