First day of school

Students look through a list for their homeroom class at the start of school Monday, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, at Trimmier Elementary School in Killeen.

The Killeen Independent School District is asking the state to waive class-size requirements for several elementary classrooms.

The board of trustees voted Tuesday to authorize requesting 16 waivers for 14 campuses from the Texas Education Agency.

According to Texas education statutes, schools are required to have a student-teacher ratio of 22-1 in kindergarten through fourth grade. If a class exceeds the ratio, districts like Killeen can ask the agency to waive the requirement.

“If we exceed that number, we can either submit a waiver or hire another teacher,” said Steve Cook, the district’s chief personnel officer.

In most cases, Cook said, the classes are only over the state-mandated ratio by one or two students. Roughly half of the waivers submitted to the board were for classes in third and fourth grades. Of the 14 campuses included in the request, Pershing Park Elementary School had the most, including classes in the fourth and first grades.

The waivers were based on enrollment data as of Sept. 10. Cook said the number of waivers requested, and the classes and grades they are requested for, could change.

“It can change in a matter of days,” said Robert Muller, Killeen’s superintendent.

DeEtta Culbertson, a spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency, said granted waivers remain in effect for the entire school year, even if the class size drops below 22 students.

“That’s not uncommon for districts like Killeen, which have more fluctuation in their enrollment,” Culbertson said.

Killeen has a highly transient student body. According to data the Texas Education Agency collected in 2011, the district’s student mobility rate of nearly 31 percent was well above the state average of 17 percent.

Cook said the number of classes that need waivers is likely to decrease as the school year continues. “What we usually see is that it slows down as we get farther into the school year,” he said.

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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