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May 25, 2010 7:19 PM by Kate Mundy

Class Size May Increase in Lafayette Parish


Tuesday, Woodvale Elementary third graders in Cindy Dupre's class got in one last writing assignment before summer break. They wrote about what the next student in their chair can expect. At the same time, their teacher Cindy Dupre realizes she'll have a few more of those seats filled next year.

To offset an almost 15 million dollar budget shortfall, the Lafayette Parish School System is considering adding students in each classroom. Certificated teachers like Dupre were asked for their input through a survey and feedback sessions. Many say "less is more" when it comes to class size.

"How many more can you fit in your room," joked teacher Beth Bollinger. "Realistically it's going to affect your test scores when you have less time to spend with your individual students," said Woodvale Elementary School fourth grade teacher Sonia Schnaars.

They were given three options in the survey, all included various program cuts, plus the addition of two, three or four more students.

Tuesday night, Chief Financial Officer Billy Guidry announced the results of the teacher survey. 68-percent of teachers surveyed chose the option with the least amount of students added.

"With every student that we add to the formula the estimated savings would approximate 2 million dollars," said Guidry. Adding two more students will save the system $5.3 million. Teacher positions would be absorbed through retirements, resignations and transfers.

While educators we talked to say they understand the cost savings and reductions, some were upset that all choices included cutting the alternative programs CAPS/LAPS by a half million dollars. "Without programs like that some of these students fall by the wayside," said teacher Tara Yergeau.

The school board will consider the recommendations and vote on the budget June 16th.

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