NC House passes class size bill

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – When North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill last year that would make smaller classroom sizes a must – just about everyone agreed it was a good idea.

But then the complaints started coming in saying schools simply didn’t have the money to make that happen without making serious cuts. And the debate got dicey.

One Democratic lawmaker said this is a lose-lose scenario.

“In Star Trek lore, there is a famous test called the Kobayashi Maru, which is a test that’s designed that you can’t win,” said Rep. Darren Jackson.

Jackson equates House Bill 13 with a real-life version of the no-win scenario.

The bill would help some school systems from having to lay off teachers like music and phys ed teachers but it makes changes to a proposal to lower class size requirements for kindergarten through third grade.

“What we’re trying to do is to provide a bit of a smoother path,” said Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson).

The General Assembly is planning to reduce class sizes for kindergarten through third grade this fall but to do so means teachers are needed for those classes.

With no added funding, some districts might need to cut art, music, or phys ed teachers to be able to make the class size requirements.

Leanne Winner with the North Carolina School Boards Association points out two other options.

Winner said to increase class size in grades four through 12 or “the County Commissioners coming up with a very substantial appropriation at the local level which is probably going to equate to a property tax increase.”

To try and address it, House lawmakers unanimously passed a bill giving more flexibility to meet the K through third grade class size requirements.

Those average class sizes will still drop but school systems could exceed those averages by up to three students.

Parents say anything dealing with their kids class size means a lot to them.

“I feel like if there are smaller class sizes, she’d be more apt to ask questions,” said parents Kristii Mitchell

Despite criticism from the Democratic house leader for the state being in this situation, the bill passed unanimously.

It now moves on to the Senate.

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