Some North Texas ISDs facing larger class sizes

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on September 12, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 13 at 11:19 AM

FRISCO - Students returning to school across North Texas are noticing their classrooms are a little more crowded.
 
State budget cuts and leaner budgets approved months ago are now being felt.
 
Frisco, for one, lost $16 million in state funding. The district's enrollment soared by 3,000 students this year, but administrators couldn't afford to hire a single additional teacher.
 
"We're trying not to add staff," said Frisco Deputy Superintendent Richard Wilkinson. "We know the solution is not to continue to add numbers of students... in the classroom."
 
Of Frisco's 864 elementary classrooms, 110 now have more than 22 students per room. The average high school classroom in Frisco now has 24 students - five more than last year.
 
Frisco, at least, didn't have to lay off any teachers. Other districts can't say the same.
 
Although Dallas Independent School District's enrollment remained the same - 157,000 students - the district lost more than 700 teachers. The district has bumped up its average high school class size by a student or two.
 
Allen schools grew by 660 students this year, but the district has 51 fewer teachers. Some classes there are approaching 40 students. Last year, no elementary classroom in Allen had more than 22 students, but this year, 65 classrooms will exceed the state cap.

Some elementary campuses are now approaching 1,000 kids.
 
"It's really hurting us in electives," said Allen ISD spokesperson Tim Carroll. "Elective classes are maxed out across the board... it's really hurting the choice parents have."
 
Not all schools are seeing large class sizes.
 
Arlington, Fort Worth and Richardson districts are all facing lean times, but they haven't seen a major change in the number of students or teachers.
 
In Frisco, administrators are hesitant about raising classes sizes again. So the school board is expected to approve a three-cent raise to the property-tax rate on Monday night.  It should generate an additional $4.5 million a year.

It's a move welcomed by some parents, like Melissa Herrington, a mother of four.
 
"My kids are not going to get enough attention from the teachers," Herrington said. "The teachers can only help and handle so much."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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