TISD approves class size increase

Published on Thursday, 19 September 2013 23:31 - Written by By Emily Guevara eguevara@tylerpaper.com

A request to allow for increased class sizes in some Tyler ISD elementary schools elicited concerns from several Tyler ISD board members.

The board approved the measure in a 4-1 vote, but not before several board members asked questions about it and at least one expressed his displeasure with the proposal.

The district’s administration presented a request to the board for 53 class-size waivers spread among 14 elementary school campuses.

The state sets the limit for kindergarten to fourth-grade classes at 22 students per one teacher. For any class that exceeds that limit, the district must request a waiver from the state.

Vice President Andy Bergfeld, who represents District 7, said it seemed that some schools were getting more oversized classes than others.

“We want parents to feel good about what we’re doing and the decisions we’re making and not feel frustrated and feel like their classes are overcrowded,” he said

The district submitted waiver requests for at least one class at all elementary schools except Birdwell, Clarkston and Peete, according to documentation submitted on Sept. 13.

However, since that date, at least five of those classes already have dropped back to within the state limit, so the situation is resolved. That leaves 48 classes that exceed the state’s 22-to-1 ratio.

The largest class size on the list is 26 students, which occurs two times. The smallest list is 23, which occurs 19 times.

Sixteen of the classes are bilingual, an area in which the district has struggled to hire teachers.

Bergfeld and District 5 trustee Brad Spradlin, the latter of whom voted against the measure, questioned why the district didn’t hire an additional teacher at Jack Elementary School, particularly in the first grade.

“It would seem to me (that if) we’re over 15 students at any school, that it would make sense to consider adding a teacher where all of the classes would drop down in size,” Spradlin said.

TISD Superintendent Gary Mooring said the district had to consider its budget. Although TISD received more state funds this year, it used the majority of them to give employee raises.

Elementary school enrollment in the district also dropped by 50 students when compared to last year. That’s a loss of $5,000 in state funding per student, or $250,000.