Budget cuts force Texas schools to boost class sizes

TYLER (KYTX) - Budget cuts are hitting schools where it hurts - in the classroom.

School districts are now adding to already full classrooms.

Tyler ISD lost almost $7 million in state funding and can't afford to hire more teachers.

So TISD received financial hardship waivers, letting them raise class sizes above the 22 student limit.

More students are coming to already large classes, and parents are worried.

Jack Elementary PTA President Chris Vordenbaumen says, "I really don't want to see that happen. I feel like we're already big enough, we're already full enough."

But districts across East Texas are in a sticky situation - more students and a lot less funding.

Vordenbaumen says, "I understand cutbacks are necessary to balance a budget. It's unfortunate it's hitting our children."

She says when schools are struggling, it's the community's job to step in and help.

"It's our teachers," she says, "Our school, our community, we're all going to lose if we don't do our part."

That can mean volunteering, providing extra eyes and hands in the classroom.

Lindsey McRae's son is about to be a kindergartner and her worry is that bigger classes will mean less individual attention and supervision.

"I would be uncomfortable with him in a class with that many kids to one teacher," she says.

The students aren't the only ones affected. As a former teacher Vordenbaumen knows how overwhelming large classes can be.

"Somebody's going to lose out,' she says, "and our teachers, we're going to stress them out and lose good teachers, because they're having to do so much more."

In a statement, Tyler ISD reassures the community saying, "The district has full faith that our caring, committed educators will succeed with one or two additional students in their classroom."

Vordenbaumen says all there is to do is be supportive, and hope for the best.

"It's a big challenge, but we have got to take lemons and make lemonade, and do our best."

In that statement, Tyler ISD said the these expansions will have a limit. Classes that exceed the state recommended size will be held to a maximum of 24 students per teacher.

Not all TISD classes will increase in size though. Of the 400 kindergarten through 4th grade classes, 81 received waivers to go above 22 students.


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