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Senate bill would remove class size cap, cut teacher aides

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A school budget bill in the General Assembly could make things even tougher on classroom teachers, and that could mean an impact on your child's education.

"At the elementary level, kindergarten, first grade and second grade, really an ideal class size for that age child is about 15 per teacher. When you get up into the mid and upper 20s in the primary grades, that's real difficult," Brunswick County Schools Superintendent Edward Pruden said.

North Carolina currently limits the number of students in a classroom to 24 for kindergarten through third grade. Senate Bill 374, also known as the as the North Carolina Public Schools Budget Flexibility Act, would eliminate that cap.

"I think some school systems that are pressed for resources might indeed swell their ranks of their primary classes," Dr. Pruden said. "Instead of having 24 or fewer, we could have K through 3 classes with 27, 28, 29. It will make that personalized instruction, individualized instruction more difficult."

If signed into law, SB 374 would not only eliminate limits on class sizes but also cut up to 4,000 teachers aide positions statewide.

"Teachers assistants are critical," Pruden said. "Sometimes when you visit a room it's difficult to tell which one is the teacher and which one is the TA. When you keep the level of teachers flat but you pull out 3,000 to 4,000 teachers assistants statewide, that's a tremendous impact. Here in Brunswick County we would lose 61 teacher assistant positions."

Under current law the state only pays for one teacher per every 18 students.

SB 374 is currently in committee.

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