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Pitt Schools get reprieve on class size reduction

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By Sharieka Botex
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A budget approved by state lawmakers on Monday leaves intact funding for a new teaching incentive program in Pitt County Schools as well as language that exempts the schools from new primary grade class-size standards.

Section 7.15 of the budget says school districts that have gained approval from the State Board of Education to participate in teaching pilot programs may allow individual schools to exceed class size requirements through the 2019-20 school year.

Pitt County is implementing the R3: Career Pathways Program systemwide next year, utilizing state-approved money and a federal Teaching Incentive Fund grant. The multi-million dollar program is placing top teachers in facilitator roles at schools throughout the county. The teachers will lead teams aimed at improving student performance. 

“The waiver approval provides Pitt County Schools the flexibility needed to maintain the class size waiver for grades K-3 for the duration of the TIF grant,” Travis Lewis, Pitt County Schools spokesman said.

Legislators last year reduced the maximum class size in kindergarten through third grade from 24 students to between 19 and 21 students. A bill passed this summer relaxed the standards to a maximum of 22 students per teacher in K-3 classes.

School districts across the state are considering converting a number of physical education and arts teaching positions to meet the requirements. Many school systems also must find additional classroom space.

The exemption received by Pitt County will allow it more time to make adjustments needed to meet the smaller class size standards, officials have said. 

The state budget passed Monday also exempts Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and Edgecombe County, Vance County and Washington County schools.

Gov. Roy Cooper must sign off on the budget.

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