22 students to a class. That's what's allowed by Texas law for kindergarten through fourth grade. Now two teaching groups have sued the Texas Education Commissioner saying she is making it easier for school boards to bypass that law.
Cheryl Schulik has 20 students in her Pine Tree kindergarten class. She's below the limit of 22, but still feels the pressure of a large class. "Just trying to do transitions it's very difficult because the noise level gets higher and they get rowdy and they feed off of each other," says Cheryl.
Cheryl says large class sizes mostly affect the students' ability to learn. "In small groups when you're trying to work with a small group, say 4 kids, and you have 16 others that are doing independent work, that aren't so independent. It gets really challenging to try and get to all of them," says Cheryl.
Cheryl's challenge is felt throughout the primary campus. At near full capacity, to stay within the class size law, a new teacher will have to be hired soon.
"Probably within the next year or two years we're going to be adding an additional class in either the pre-k or kindergarten. If we do that in our current building, we're going to have to lose our science lab," says principal Kathy Newsom. That is why the Pine Tree school district is hoping a bond election will pass. The bond will allow them to build a new, larger primary campus.
A teacher for ten years, Cheryl has had classrooms as small as 16 students. She says, for both teachers and students, the smaller the class size the better.
The bond election to build a new primary school, as well as several other projects at Pine Tree, is set to go before voters December 18th.
Just this semester, about 90 Texas school districts have requested permission from the state to allow more than 22 students in a classroom.