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Uncertainty Remains In General Assembly About K-3 Reduced Class Size Law

elementary school students

It’s not clear if North Carolina lawmakers convening in special session this week will address the k-3 reduced class size legislation. But Wake County Democrat Rep. Jay Chaudhouri says he plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that returns the maximum number of students allowed in classes in those grades to 24.

A law that goes into effect next school year mandates the maximum number of students per class range from 16 students for first grade classes to 18 for kindergarten. School districts say they can’t afford to hire more teachers or add classroom space that the change would require. Republican Rep. Craig Horn of Union County says he is working with legislators to come up with a fix but says it probably won’t get done this month. 

“I do not expect any action on the K-3 class size reduction issue this week, however, there is work being done to analyze data and develop a reasonable and realistic solution to this problem in time for the affected LEA’s (Local Education Agencies) to deal with this issue appropriately,” Horn said.  “I expect that the General Assembly will take action well before April on this, leaving sufficient time for the LEA’s to develop their budget to submit to their county commissioners and to make any necessary adjustments for the fall school year.”

In a breakfast meeting with state legislators last week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials urged members to act quickly because the May deadline for the district’s budget is looming and they have already started working on it. If the law is not changed, school officials statewide say they will have to hire additional teachers, purchase trailers for classrooms and possibly cut courses such as art, music, PE and foreign languages to make up for the increased funds they will have to spend.