Lawmaker says politicians close to decision on lowering class sizes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - North Carolina Republican lawmaker Craig Horn says within the next 10 days state leaders should decide if they are going to go through with a mandate for school districts to lower class sizes.

Leaders want school districts to lower the maximum class size for students in Kindergarten to third grade by next school year. Currently, the maximum number of kids in K-3 classes is 24 - depending on the grade. Lawmakers want that number to decrease to 18, 17, and 16 students.

Horn is chairman of both the House Committee on Appropriations for Education and the House Education Policy Committee for K-12 Education. He has been meeting with lawmakers looking for a solution to lowering class sizes. School districts say if the mandates are approved, school districts would scramble trying to meet the mandate.

"The goal is what provides the best outcome for students," Horn said. "And we're looking at every option everything from doing nothing which means allowing current situation proceed to eliminating classroom size mandates across the board."

School districts say they would have to find the extra money to hire the needed teachers to fulfill the mandate and the space to create the classrooms. Horn says finding a compromise is a tough assignment.

"Right now I'm in the middle of a forest fire armed with a squirt gun," Horn said.

Many school districts have said they could get rid of special classes, to help fund the mandate. Horn says lawmakers think those special classes are necessary.

"Across the board, we all in the legislature share a belief that Music, Art, and PE are not enhancements," Horn said. "But part of a fundamental good education for every child and we need to be able to deliver on that."

Horn says he has received thousands of emails and dozens of voicemail messages from parents asking him to slow things down. He says everything is on the table.

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