Six members of the Killeen Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to allow the district to seek waivers from the state to exceed class size requirements in some elementary school classrooms.
At their regular meeting Tuesday night, the board, minus board member JoAnn Purser who was absent from the meeting, voted to accept the district’s recommendation to seek waivers for classrooms at 12 of its elementary schools where class size has exceeded the state-mandated ratio of 22 students per-teacher in grades kindergarten through fourth.
“We are asking for these waivers at select locations and grade levels based on a very conservative approach,” said Robert Muller, Killeen district superintendent.
Now that the district has the board approval, the waivers must now be submitted to the Texas Education Agency for approval. According to the agency’s records, the last time the TEA received and approved a request by Killeen for class size waivers was in 2004.
Both Muller and the district’s executive director for personnel services, Steve Cook, noted that in the classrooms identified for waivers student counts only exceeded the mandated ratio by one to three students.
“It’s a very small number,” said Cook, who also said the average teacher-to-student ratio in the district’s elementary schools was currently about 20 students per teacher.
Both Muller and Cook attributed the need for the waivers to unexpected growth in certain areas of the district, particularly in the north.
“We had some unanticipated growth in some areas (we) usually just don’t see it,” Muller said.
While the district submits those waivers, Cook said the district would be monitoring class sizes closely, and would inform the board if there is a need to ask for more waivers.
“It’s not a runaway situation,” he told board members at the meeting. “It will be monitored and evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”