Horry County plans to increase class sizes to save money - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Horry County plans to increase class sizes to save money

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Your child may be sharing a classroom with more students in the future, a change the Horry County school district is considering in order to cut costs.

The Horry County Schools Finance Committee is discussing adding more students in middle and high school classrooms in the coming years, one student for the 2017 school year, and another, the following.

Right now, each classroom averages about 25 students.

That change would make room for the 900 additional students expected to enroll in the district in the coming year.

It would also save the school district about $2.5 million, according to Horry County School Board Chair Joe DeFeo, because the district would hire fewer teachers.

“Reduction of 16.5 positions at middle school and 21.5 positions at high school level,” school board member Jeffrey Garland said.

The spokesperson for the school district said, she does not anticipate any teachers to be let go; teachers who retire or move on, compensate for those numbers.

"No teachers, in my opinion, stand any chance of losing their jobs,” DeFeo said.

Parent, Jessica Pickett said, the school board should add more teachers, not cut back.

"A child's education, that should be more important than cutting costs,” Pickett said. "I feel like the teacher should have a little more one on one time with the kids."

One school board member addressed concerns that adding students will take away from the learning of others, but the committee says we need to look at cutting costs.

“In the fall of 2013, as part of the motion that approved the funding for and provided for digital devices, it included an increase in the average class size by 2 students for each grade level that received the devices. School administration said that these devices would help teachers better manage the classroom and meet the student's individual educational needs. School administration has asked the board to delay implementation of this the past 2 years which the board agreed too. Thus, this is increase is not new as it was approved about 2 years ago but just has not been implemented yet.” Garland said in an email.

DeFeo says its more than just to incorporate PDL. Other costs include building new schools, and adding more English as a Second Language, or ESOL teachers, to meet government requirements.

“Mandated by federal law, a student walks in a school, they don't have to provide citizenship residency or anything we must teach them, that's all well and good, but they do not give us the money to teach them,” DeFeo said.

DeFeo said a focus for the board is to look at the current programs, make sure they're working and if they're not then we need to cut them.

The Board of Education will discuss this proposal at its next meeting on December 14.

Defeo said he hopes to have a decision in January, but the actual budget for the district isn't finalized until June.

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