Saturday, August 14, 2010

Schools Pack In More Kids to Cope With Cuts

Many California students returning to school this week are being squeezed into over-crowded classrooms. According to the Sacramento Bee, the state is seeing the largest average class sizes in over a decade. The change is part of a new trend where schools are requesting class-size increases, without having to pay stiff penalties, in order to save money.

Large numbers of school districts are bombarding the state with requests to expand classes beyond the legal limits.

The California Board of Education, which reviews class-size waiver requests, gave out 16 exemptions in an 11-month period ending in July. Since then, the board heard 16 more waiver requests at its board meeting Aug. 2 and expects another 16 in September, said Judy Pinegar, manager of the waiver office at the California Department of Education.

The state had no requests for class size increases between 1999 and 2009.

"It's the hot item right now," Pinegar said. "I'm expecting almost every district in the state to request one."

The state allows an average of 31 students in kindergarten, 30 in first through third grade and 29.9 in fourth through eighth grade.

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