No significant changes coming in Coweta class sizes

The Georgia State Board of Education (SBOE) cut local school systems a major break Monday in terms of required class sizes. But Coweta County schools will likely be unaffected because class sizes should remain essentially the same as this year.

Class size is always a big issue for educators. The State Board of Education Monday (SBOE) granted an exemption of all statutory and regulatory class size maximums for the 2010-2011 school year due to the continued decline of state and local revenues brought on by the recession.

“We don't expect that there will be significant changes in average system class sizes next year compared to this school year,” said Coweta School System Public Information Officer Dean Jackson. “But we are glad the state board is understanding of the enormous financial strain has put on school systems and willing to allow local school boards the flexibility to manage their budgets as needed.”

Jackson said the Coweta County Board of Education currently plans to give first consideration to a 2011 budget on June 1, with final approval coming at the regular board Meeting on June 8. Superintendent Blake Bass is finalizing that budget now, Jackson said.

From the statewide perspective, the SBOE recognized the need to give school districts more flexibility, said spokesperson Matt Cardoza.

"School districts have been financially devastated by the economy so the State Board took action to help districts balance their budgets," said SBOE Chair Wanda Barrs. "Increasing class size is never ideal, but a slight increase will allow systems to significantly conserve resources while managing through these difficult times."

The exemption of class size maximums does not remove the requirement for school districts to continue to meet all federal and state accountability measures as well as health and safety requirements.

"Accountability is here to stay, which is a good thing," said State School Superintendent Kathy Cox. "The requirements under No Child Left Behind and the varying instructional needs of students should still be at the forefront when local districts are making decisions about their class sizes."