LOWNDES COUNTY, GA (WALB) - It's a common perception that there is always a need for good teachers. Yet, school systems across the state are hiring fewer teachers--a result of budget cuts.
Here in Lowndes County, teachers are nervous. "I think the thing people are most worried about is their job," says Jennifer Goble, a Pre-K teacher at Westside Elementary. "With the budget cuts, they're encouraged probably to make larger classrooms and have less teachers."
It's true. In fact, last week, Lowndes and almost a dozen surrounding counties decided not to hold their annual teacher job fair in the Spring.
"With the job cuts and the raising of the student/teacher ratio, we're not going to be doing a lot of recruitment as we normally would be doing," says Randy Cooper, HR Director for the Lowndes County Board of Education.
Class sizes will also take a hit. Georgia has increased class size restrictions statewide. Elementary and Middle school classes can now have 30 students. High Schools are now permitted to have 32 students in a single class.
Historically, Lowndes has kept class sizes lower than the state's limit. With fewer teachers, this will change.
"We won't approach the state's required recommended class size, but we can put a few more children in there and it would help us improve our costs," says Heather Bonner, Lowndes' Communication Director.
While the board of education says student needs will still be met, there's no denying the devastating effects for teachers. "There are a lot of great, qualified people that are out there that will be looking for jobs and just not able to find them," Cooper says.
Administrators hope the economy will improve, allowing more teachers the opportunity to enrich students' lives.