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Smaller State Funding, Bigger Class Sizes

Bigger class sizes are expected when Macon County students go back to school next week. Some teachers are expecting as many as 25 to 30 students compared to about 20 last year.

Tyler Faetz says he'll maintain his commitment to quality teaching English at Franklin High School. But he says more kids in the room, makes it harder. "The larger your population the more difficult it is to work with those small groups and give students that individual attention," he says.

Administrators say it's the result of lawmakers making cuts to teaching allocations. They say fewer teachers and teaching assistants means re-arranging staffing and making due with less. "For instance here at Franklin High School, we've had to absorb a Spanish teaching position, an English position. Nantahala School has absorbed a Math position, Macon Middle School is also going to be doing without a media coordinator," says Superintendent Chris Baldwin.

Baldwin says the General Assembly's funding combination this year leaves the school system in a bind. "We've had to account for the teacher raise for our locally paid teachers and other local employees, and also for cuts to the teacher assistant allotment.  The two combined amount to about 475 thousand dollars in funding that we'll have to come up with out of cuts. The way we're going to manage this is through the attrition of 7 teaching positions and 5 teaching assistant positions," he says.

More students in classrooms equal more work for teachers, but not much more money. "If you look back at our 2007-2008 salary schedule and you compare that to where we are right now you'll see that we actually lost ground," says Faetz.

Faetz says he and his wife want to stay in Macon, but know they could make more across the line in Georgia. "But I'd be lying if I didn't say that we've certainly thought from time to time about the possibility of picking up and moving."

Parents like Penny Ramey blame lawmakers for over-stuffing classrooms. "They're losing focus on what's more important to the community which is the education of our future," she says.

Baldwin says quality will be maintained. But he says lawmakers need to be convinced public education is worth funding. School starts in Macon County Monday.

By: Rex Hodge
Follow Rex on Twitter @RexHodgeWLOS


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