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Some Parents Concerned About Class Sizes In Savannah-Chatham Schools

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SAVANNAH, GA - Research tends to show a smaller class size is connected to more student success. When students return to school in August some class sizes will continue to be larger in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School District.

The school board agreed to the same class size waiver as last year that would allow them to put up to four additional students in classes.

The waiver would allow up to 24 students in kindergarten, 25 students first through third grade, 32 students in fourth through eighth grade, and in high school there can be up to 36 students.

"It’s shocking because they need attention at all ages, education is very important. 36 in one classroom is far too many,” said parent Gerd Nitschmann

Parent Gerd Nitschmann has a middle and high school student and said his kids have a harder time when there are more students.

"Very difficult to learn and concentrate in such an environment,” said Nitschmann.

Chief Financial Officer Rebecca McClain said class sizes started to go up when the economy went down and the state didn't give school districts the funding they were due.

"This past fiscal year 2014 that nearly amounted to  $19 million of state funding that we did not receive so that was kind of the trade off for not giving us the funding that we earned was to allow us to increase the class size,” said McClain.

An increase in class size means making sure teachers are prepared to handle that amount of students.

"A masterful teacher I think can manage but I think most teachers prefer a smaller group of students. Our job is to ensure they have the skills that they need,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ann Levett.

Dr. Ann Levett, the Chief Academic Officer, said they try to put the most skillful teachers in the larger classes.

"They know how to manage instruction and time so that kids can still get that personalized attention they need,” said Dr. Levett.

Dr. Levett said a class with 15-to-18 students is usually the best equation for success but McClain said that comes at a cost.

"We'd have to pay for those teachers through local tax revenue so it's a very simple trade off there we have to get the class size waiver so we won’t have to increase taxes anymore,” said McClain.

Dr. Levett said there are many classes that never reach the maximum number. Teachers in kindergarten also get a paraprofessional every day to help handle up to 24 kids.

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