Lowndes schools start with fewer teachers and full classes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lowndes schools start with fewer teachers and full classes

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August 11, 2003

Lowndes County - Debra Wingert's first grade classroom is jam packed with students. "We're maxed out, at full capacity," said Wingert.

And she's not the only teacher with her hands full. The state's struggling budget has had a big impact on the school system's personnel count. "Our revenue is between three and five percent less than it was at this time last year," said Superintendent Steve Smith.

State budget cuts forced the Lowndes County school system to cut between 35 and 40 teaching positions. But luckily, no one lost a job. "We were able to do it all through attrition," said Smith. "People were retiring, relocating, or changing jobs."

State guidelines permit 20 students in each classroom, and allow two more if they're aren't enough teachers. Several kindergarten and first grade classes were at 24 today. "From what I've seen, we're over our limit and we might have to add back a few teachers," said Smith.

The larger class sizes makes teaching a much more difficult task for teachers like Mrs. Wingert. "Young children need a lot of individual attention and when we're at full capacity, we can't give them all the time they need," said Wingert.

Superintendent Smith says he may have to move teachers to different schools and grade levels...but hopes to have all classroom counts reduced by the end of the week.

posted at 3:00 by ashley.harper@walb.com