Wake County schools leaders consider making teachers double up in classrooms

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County leaders are weighing several options to meet a state mandate on smaller class sizes at the K-3 level, which include two teachers sharing a classroom.

During a school board committee meeting Wednesday, administrators discussed a variety of options after getting feedback from the county’s elementary school principals.

“Well, I’m concerned about 34 kids in a classroom with two teachers. That’s not the objective of reducing class size,” said board member Bill Fletcher.

Angela Lombardi, who’s a parent of two kids in the county school system, said she worries about the effect that would have on kids’ education.

“Yeah, that’s absolutely horrible. I think Wake County has a problem with overcrowding already anyway. I just don’t think that’s the solution,” she said.

Next school year, grades K-3 will have to have an average of 16 to 18 students, compared to the average of 20 currently.

For Wake County, it means figuring out where to place about 9,500 students in order to comply with the mandate.

Among 104 elementary school principals surveyed, 39 said they could comply without impacting current space standards. Another 15 said they would have to make some classroom reassignments. Thirty principals said they would have to adjust programs, for example having art and music teachers cart around supplies to classrooms as opposed to having a room of their own. They also said fourth and fifth grade classrooms would exceed 29 students. Additionally, 20 more principals said they don’t have the space to meet the requirements, even with putting art and music on a cart.

“At this point, we’ve got the data. We don’t necessarily have the complete answer,” said Fletcher.

Among the options discussed Wednesday: converting more schools to a multi-track year-round calendar, moving fifth graders to less crowded middle schools, adding trailers, restructuring schools to be K-2/3-5 or K-3/4-5 and reassigning students back to their base schools.

The issue of class sizes gained a lot of attention this spring as school administrators warned they would have to cut art, music and PE teachers in order to pay for additional K-3 teachers.

School board members plan to discuss the issue at future meetings. Fletcher said in January he expects individual schools to have clearer plans about what they’ll do to comply with the mandate.


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