District to get federal funds for class-size reduction | RecordCourier.com
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District to get federal funds for class-size reduction

by Merrie Leininger

Federal legislation aimed at encouraging class size reduction passed last week will bring $5.6 million to Nevada next year and deliver more than $90,000 to Douglas County schools.

However, Douglas County School District Director of Business Services Rick Kester said the district doesn’t have a lot of details about the program, but the district hopes they will have the discretion about how to spend the money.

“It’s welcome and we intend to use it, especially with tight funding for the state in the next two years,” Kester said. “My understanding is, in states who have already used their own money, there is flexibility in the federal legislation to use the funds for teacher training, and so we may not use it to hire more teachers.”

According to a press release from Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nevada) office, Douglas County will receive $91,098 for the next school year. This is only the first installment of a seven-year, $12.4 billion plan to hire 100,000 teachers nationwide. This year, $1.2 billion was provided to school districts across the nation.

Kester said the district started class size reduction in 1990, along with the rest of Nevada schools, starting in 1st grade classes. Kester said 1st and 2nd grade classes have 16 students to one teacher; however, because of the lack of classrooms available, about 60 percent of those classes are team-taught. This means there are actually 32 students and two teachers per classroom.

Most 3rd grade classes have 19 students to one teacher, which is the state requirement.

Kester said the rest of the state is experiencing the same shortage of classroom space because of great population growth in the state and the implementation of the class size reduction program.

The money will be available to the schools July 1, Kester said, and the school hopes to use the money for teacher training to assist in implementing the new graduation requirements.

“Our interest is to get some flexibility. As we go to higher standards, we believe we need more teacher training rather than reduced class sizes to get more significant class performance. We want to use what we have in a more efficient manner,” he said. “We hope to target the money for teachers to learn reading recovery programs and the kind of programs we believe will have more impact than class size.”