VISD officials seek state permission to exceed class size

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Sept. 20, 2012 at 4:20 a.m.
Updated Sept. 21, 2012 at 4:21 a.m.

Victoria Independent School District wants classrooms to exceed the state's student capacity limit.

And the decision to seek the state's approval to do that was a reluctant one for Victoria school board member Lou Svetlik and secretary Estella De Los Santos.

The vote was 6-1 for the approval of the Maximum Class Size Waiver application at a regular school board meeting Thursday.

The waiver would only affect kindergartners through fourth-graders.

"I'm still thinking about these 24 kids in one classroom," said De Los Santos, who voted against the application. "These days kids come with a lot of extra baggage."

The application for the waiver is nothing new for the district said VISD spokeswoman Diane Boyett.

For the past few years, the district has applied to expand the state cap from 22 to 24 students per teacher.

Last year, the district had 43 classrooms of kindergartners through fourth-graders that exceeded the state capacity; this year they have 66.

"This would have been a whole lot worse if we hadn't opened two new elementary schools," said board vice president Bernard Klimist.

The vice president who introduced the motion to approve the application also said the need to exceed the student-teacher ratio capacity wouldn't be necessary if the state dedicated more funding to education.

"You either increase the class or the staff," Klimist said. "Ideally, there would only be 15 kids in one classroom."

Before voting, Svetlik emphasized his reluctance to approve the application because of his experience working in an elementary school.

"I have a feeling of what these teachers are going to be facing," Svetlik said.

The online application for the waiver will be completed by Student Services Coordinator Tammy Nobles through the Texas Education Agency's website.

"This year there's a new automated system, so it will be a fairly quick turnaround," Nobles said.

To alleviate transfers, the district moved five teachers to different elementary schools and saved about 150 students the hassle of transferring, Nobles said.

"They were each offered a substitute teacher for a day or two so that they could get setup at their new schools," Boyett said.

The district also plans to hire 15 additional part-time teaching assistants for the over-capacity classrooms.

Nobles said the district plans to use help from the Victoria Business and Education Coalition mentorship program.



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