Numbers for reduced class sizes submitted | NevadaAppeal.com
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Numbers for reduced class sizes submitted

TERI VANCE

There are fewer students per teacher in the lower grades of the Carson City School District than there were last year. However, the ratio is still not low enough to meet state standards.

“Budget restrictions cause us to be unable to reach prescribed ratios,” explained associate superintendent Mike Watty in an application for a variance to state education officials.

Watty discussed the situation with members of the school board Tuesday night, and trustees approved the application for a variance.

State legislation requires that all school districts ensure a ratio of 15 pupils per teacher from kindergarten through third grades, or provide an explanation as to why the ratio isn’t met.

Carson City nearly met the requirement in first grade with a ratio of 15.5 to one, and in second grade with a ratio of 15.1 to one.

Third-graders have a ratio of 18.4 to one; kindergarten is the highest with a ratio of 21 to one.

“Kindergarten classrooms are a little more difficult to work with,” Watty explained. “They have their own bathrooms and their own playground equipment. They’re more expensive and harder to come by.”

In the other grades, it is rare when a classroom has only 15 students. Instead, district officials find alternative methods of meeting the standards.

“For the most part, we don’t have the facilities available,” he explained. “We either bring in portables or additional staff for team teaching.”

The state helps offset the cost of hiring additional faculty every year. This year, the district received $2.7 million from the state.

Legislators also decided this year that the money could be used for districts to design their own program for reducing class sizes.

However, Watty said it was not an option in Carson City, where schools are at 97 percent capacity.

“We took a look at it, but based on space availability, we don’t have the ability to do that,” he said.

Contact Teri Vance at 881-1272 or tvance@nevadaappeal.com