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Teachers: Budget Shortfall May Negatively Impact Education & Class Sizes

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Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County teachers are sounding the alarms as school officials try to reduce a massive budget shortfall.  Teachers say proposed reductions in nearly 200 teacher positions through attrition will have an impact on education.

Derek Valcourt explains how schools will be impacted.

High schools will take the biggest hit.  Pikesville High School, for example, will lose as many as eight teachers.  Union officials are warning parents this will impact class sizes.

No teacher layoffs this year, but through attrition, Baltimore County schools will reduce the number of teachers by as many as 196.  It’s all spelled out in a proposed budget for next year.

It’s not good news to teachers at Patapsco High School, where as many as nine fellow faculty members will be reassigned to other schools.

“Basically what that means is that some departments are getting smaller and that’s going to impact the class sizes for students.  Some class sizes may go up to over 30,” said teacher Sandie Skordalos.

Union officials expect elementary schools will go largely untouched but say high schools will bear the brunt of the teacher reductions.  Some teachers have already been told they’ll be reassigned, most likely to middle schools.

The reductions will affect some schools more than others.  Dundalk High School is one of the hardest hit; that school is expected to lose a total of 20 positions.

This year, an average of 26.2 students sit in middle and high school classrooms.  Under the proposal for next year, class sizes will rise just slightly for middle school to 27.7 and an average of 29 students per class in most county high schools.  Teachers say any increase in class sizes will add up.

“When you are talking about three or four across each classroom, you are talking 10 to 12 students more than you already have on your caseload, so it’s really hard to teach that child and be personable with that child,” said Lisa Norrington-Moseley.

“We are thankful that we have a job, we are thankful that we are not being laid off but we are looking past us and looking at our students and saying, `But this isn’t the best way to deliver a quality education,'” said Teachers Association President Cheryl Bost.

The teachers’ union criticizes the proposed budget for only reducing teacher jobs and not jobs in administration or in support staff.

School officials declined to be interviewed.

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