Class sizes to stay about the same

June 19, 1994|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Sun Staff Writer

The Harford school system received enough county money to hire 86 new classroom teachers for the coming school year -- but don't expect to see smaller classes.

At least 71 new teachers will be used to maintain current class sizes and open two new elementary schools, said Superintendent Ray R. Keech. School officials expect about 1,200 new students, which would swell the rolls to about 36,000.

After the basics are taken care of, Dr. Keech said, the 15 remaining teachers will be used to reduce class sizes, but "very slightly."

At last week's school board meeting, Dr. Keech told the audience that large classes were the fault of the county executive and County Council.

"They cut our budget by $9 million," he said.

County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann said that was incorrect. She said the county gave the school system about $10 million more than it got this year, a record 11 percent increase.

"If anyone wants to lobby for more money, they should ask the state and the federal government to increase the money it gives the subdivisions for education -- instead of cutting it," she said.

School officials had asked Mrs. Rehrmann for $101 million, a $14 million increase. Mrs. Rehrmann and the council approved $96 million, compared with fiscal 1994's $87 million.

Donald R. Morrison, a school spokesman, said schools gain and lose teachers for several reasons. He said in most cases a school loses or gets a teacher because of changes in student population.

For example, some schools, such as Homestead/Wakefield Elementary in Bel Air, will lose four teachers because of redistricting. About 100 students who attended the school this year will be attending Emmorton Elementary when it opens next year, said Principal Christopher G. Terry.

Mr. Morrison said more teachers are also assigned to schools where students have learning problems. This typically includes children who live along the U.S. Route 40 corridor who may come from impoverished families or from families that move a lot, he said.

For example, Joppatowne Elementary, which is expected to lose eight students, will get one new teacher, officials said.

"Not all kids are equal, but they all are entitled to the same rigorous curriculum, and it may take more resources, like more teachers, for them to achieve," said board member George Lisby.

Mr. Morrison said the school system's goals are to have no more than 20 students in a kindergarten class, 23 in an elementary class, 25 in a middle school class and 30 in a high school class.

In the 159 kindergarten classes this year, the average class size was about 18 pupils.

In the 596 elementary classes, 67 classes had 20 or fewer students; 340 classes had 21 to 25 and 184 classes had 26 to 30.

Information for middle and high schools was not immediately available, Mr. Morrison said.

The new Church Creek Elementary, in Belcamp, will start next year with 29 teachers; Emmorton Elementary, in Bel Air, will open with 21. Dr. Keech said most new schools open with 24 teachers.

Changes in staffing are as follows (partial numbers relate to days or partial days that so-called "itinerant" teachers work in a JTC particular school):

Abingdon Elementary gets 3.4 more teachers; Bakerfield Elementary in Aberdeen loses 1.9; Bel Air Elementary stays the same; Churchville Elementary gets .5 more; Darlington Elementary gets two more; Deerfield Elementary in Edgewood gets .9 more; Dublin Elementary gets .4 more; Edgewood Elementary stays the same; Forest Hill Elementary gets 1.7 more; Fountain Green Elementary in Bel Air gets 2.7 more; Hall's Cross Roads in Aberdeen gets 1.7 more; Havre de Grace Elementary loses two; Hickory Elementary gets one more; Hillsdale Elementary in Aberdeen loses two; and Homestead/Wakefield in Bel Air loses 4.3.

Also, Jarrettsville Elementary gets 1.4 more; Joppatowne Elementary gets one more; Magnolia Elementary in Joppatowne gets five more; Meadowvale Elementary in Havre de Grace gets 2.9 more; Norrisville Elementary gets .2 more; North Bend Elementary in North Harford gets one more; North Harford Elementary gets one more; Prospect Mill Elementary in Bel Air gets 3.1 more; Ring Factory Elementary in Bel Air loses 12.4; Riverside Elementary in Joppa loses 3.6; Roye-Williams Elementary in Aberdeen gets two more; William Paca/Old Post Road in Abingdon loses 5.1; William S. James Elementary in Bel Air stays the same; and Youth's Benefit Elementary in Fallston gets 4.7 more.

At the middle schools: Aberdeen Middle stays the same; Bel Air Middle gets four more; Edgewood Middle gets four more; Fallston Middle gets 11 more; Havre de Grace Middle gets one more; Magnolia Middle gets seven more; North Harford Middle gets three more; and Southampton Middle in Bel Air gets six more.

At the high schools: Aberdeen High gets four more; Bel Air High gets 4.5 more; C. Milton Wright High in Bel Air stays the same; Edgewood High loses four; Fallston High gets nine more; Harford Technical High in Bel Air gets one more; Havre de Grace High stays the same; Joppatowne High gets three more; and North Harford High gets two more.

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