Budget Includes 175 Teachers to Reduce Class Size

February 9, 2005
$9.8 Million Initiative is First Systemwide Reduction
in Maximum Class Size Guidelines in 20 years

ROCKVILLE, MD – Many classes in Montgomery County Public Schools will be smaller this fall under a new budget adopted by the Montgomery County Board of Education Tuesday. For the first time in 20 years, the Board reduced elementary maximum class size guidelines, which will result in a reduction of up to 5 to 7 students in oversized classes.

The Board included $9.8 million to hire 175 new teachers – 135 elementary and 40 secondary – to lower class sizes beginning in fall 2005 as part of its $1.7 billion FY 2006 Operating Budget. The budget, which passed unanimously, also includes $2.3 million to move more special education students into general education classrooms. The Board’s budget must now be approved by the Montgomery County Executive and County Council this spring.

“We know that smaller classes give teachers more time with each student. More time with each student means more time to reach each student,” Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, told parents and teachers at Wyngate Elementary School Wednesday. “Helping our students grow and progress in elementary school with smaller classes leads to academic success later on when our students take rigorous courses in high school.”

“As parents, the first questions we often ask our children at the beginning of the school year are, ‘Who’s your teacher and how many kids are in your class?’ Next school year, the answers to these questions will make many parents happy. This Board is committed to lowering class sizes and giving every student the best possible environment in which to learn,” said Board of Education President Patricia B. O’Neill. “Giving teachers more time to spend with each student is a key ingredient in the formula for success in our schools. Now we must work with County Executive Doug Duncan and the County Council to make sure this budget is fully funded.”

The new class size guidelines will reduce the maximum class sizes from 28 to 26 in grades 1 through 3 and from 30 to 28 in grades 4 and 5. The net effect of these changes is that many oversized classes will be 5 to 7 students smaller because schools will add another class to meet the new guidelines. For example, at Wyngate Elementary in Bethesda, if the new guidelines were in effect now, instead of three first grade classes with 27 and 28 students, the school would have four classes of 20 or 21 students.

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