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Killeen ISD class size waiver requests declining

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Posted: Saturday, November 24, 2012 4:30 am

The number of elementary school classes in the Killeen Independent School District that exceed state class-size ratios appear to be shrinking, according to data from the district.

A presentation given to the district’s board of trustees earlier this month showed that roughly 50 percent of the classes initially above that ratio — 22 students to one teacher — have declined since the beginning of the school year.

“They seem to have leveled off,” said Steve Cook, the district’s chief personnel officer.

Cook gave the presentation as members met for the fourth time this school year to approve applications for waivers that would exempt the district from the state’s class-size requirements, which apply to all kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms.

The first group of waivers was approved in September, and at subsequent meetings throughout the year, marking the first time the district had requested such waivers since 2004, according to records from the Texas Education Agency.

At the time, Cook and Superintendent Robert Muller said most of the classes were only one or two students over the limit, and both vowed to monitor class sizes closely.

As of November, the district had requested waivers for 22 classes at 19 of its elementary school campuses. But in his Nov. 13 presentation to the board, Cook said 11 of those classrooms had dipped below that threshold.

Even with some fluctuation in class size in some classrooms, the average teacher-to-students ratio in the district’s elementary schools is about 20 students per teacher.

State statutes require the district request a waiver any time a class goes above the ratio, and it has just 30 days to notify the state, which then approves the waiver.

“It’s kind of a rolling event,” said Cook. “It’s something we have to monitor and look at every day.”

While the number of classes in need of waivers may be down, the district is still planning for an expected increase in growth, particularly in the southern portion of the district.

This year, the district is preparing to build a 33rd elementary school, and has begun discussing the possibility of building a satellite transportation facility, and adding additional classrooms at Mountain View Elementary School.

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