Enrollment lottery on standby over class size debate

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The debate over class-size limits in North Carolina could end access for many children to a year-round school in New Hanover County.

The law on class size was changed in the state budget last year. Most recently, The NC House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 13 to help. The Senate still has to vote on the issue. Meanwhile, principals are preparing for the worst, but still hoping for the best.

Like many other parents, Molly Stallard had been waiting for a letter saying her son had been chosen to start school at Eaton Elementary in July.

“I mean it’s disappointing,” Stallard said. “I’m among many, many parents that are disappointed.”

Instead, she got this letter.

“Saying that there was no lottery,” Stallard said. “They had no room for the kids because of this new law.”

The new law caps the size of kindergarten through third grade classrooms.

“It says that my child’s name will remain in the lottery until July 18, which is the day before school starts,” Stallard said.

In the meantime, teachers, principals and superintendents are trying to get House Bill 13 passed to allow some flexibility.

“We are already at, over capacity and we are already using every space that we have available,” Parsley Elementary School Principal Doctor Robin Hamilton said.

Parsley Elementary School Principal Doctor Robin Hamilton said if HB13 does not pass, the school will have to add seven classrooms and potentially cut art, music, and PE teachers.

“It would leave the responsibility of art, music and PE on the shoulders of the regular classroom teachers,” Hamilton said.

It is a possibility creating stress in more ways than one.

“When you feel like maybe your position may be eliminated and it’s almost May and you still don’t know, I think that does cause a lot of stress for people, because this is their livelihood we’re talking about,” Hamilton said.

Meanwhile, parents like Stallard are in limbo unsure of when her son will even start school.

“It’s more stressful now that we could come to July 10,” Stallard said. “Oh, no. Wait. You’re going to go to Eaton.”

For now, the future of her son’s lottery, the future of some teachers’ jobs, and ultimately the future of classroom sizes are all in the hands of the senate.

We reached out to our senators. Senator Bill Rabon said he is still undecided until house bill 13 actually gets to the senate floor for debate. He said that probably will not be until some time after April 27.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Danny Britt said Britt is out of town for the week. A spokeswoman for Sen. Michael Lee said Lee is also out of pocket this week.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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