NC parents, teachers and students rally to keep classes from being cut

People at the rally on Wednesday. Photo by Michael Hyland/CBS North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — While smaller classes for kids may sound like a good idea, some parents say there’s a major problem with how the state is going about it.

They held a rally Wednesday trying to get the Senate to act now on House Bill 13.

It passed unanimously earlier this year and gives school districts more flexibility.

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That would help them keep more specialists like arts and music teachers as they meet state requirements on smaller class sizes at the K-to-3 level.

Just as people were rallying outside the General Assembly, a Senator told CBS North Carolina a fix is coming.

But, he was short on details and educators say they’re short on time.

Children and their parents made signs and made their pleas.

“I hope to be a musician when I get older, and music class is so important to me,” said Maggie Fewkes, a student

Fewkes was outside the legislature with a couple hundred other people.

They’re worried about a mandate requiring smaller classes at the K-to-3 level.

“Very surprised that this has stalled for two months,” Jenni Sonstom, an Elementary School Music Teacher.

The issue, school districts say they don’t have the money to hire the teachers.

That could lead to specialists like arts and p-e teachers losing their jobs.

“My specials teachers are some of the best teachers I know,” Fewkes said.

The band director where Fewkes will go to middle school says there’s a lot of concern.

“We’re talking about people’s jobs. We’re talking about people’s longevity, their careers. And, we’re talking about kids and fundamental development,” said Chris Forgione, the Band Director at Davis Drive Middle School.

House Bill 13 passed unanimously earlier this year, but the senate hasn’t acted on it.

Republican Senator Jerry Tillman says the senate has its own plan… different from House Bill 13.

He didn’t give specifics… but said it will avoid layoffs.

“Just hold their potatoes for a week or two, I think the picture will clear up dramatically,” Tillman said.

But, some educators say they don’t have another week or two.

Conversations are already starting at year-round schools on changes they’ll have to make to meet the mandate.

Some activists who were here say they think this issue is dragging out because it’ll be part of the negotiating over the state budget.

Governor Roy Cooper Tweeted about the issue earlier saying: “This kind of uncertainty is bad for our kids and bad for our educators. Our legislature must fix this problem.”

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