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State OK's county's class size waiver request

There's one down, but how many are left? The McDuffie County School Board recently received a waiver from the Truth in Class Size Act from the Georgia Department of Education.

The waiver was requested in December to allow Dearing Elementary School to exceed the maximum class size of 21 students in their first grade classrooms. DES has two first grade classrooms with 22 students and one with 21.

The waiver was approved, but at the January meeting, Superintendent Mark Petersen requested the local board to submit an additional resolution and application for a waiver for the kindergarten classes at Thomson Elementary.

Assistant Superintendent Barry O'Neill said TES now has 162 students in eight kindergarten classes. The state maximum class size for kindergarten is 20 students. Earlier in the year, Dr. O'Neill said additional students were sent to nearby Maxwell Elementary to keep the numbers within the requirements. Now, Dr. O'Neill said the MES kindergarten is full at 160 students.

A waiver must be applied for each class that exceeds the limit, no matter how late in the school year, Dr. O'Neill said.

"So if it is the last week of school, and a child moves in, we'd still have to apply for a waiver even though school would be out before we'd hear the results," he said. "It's ridiculous, but I understand what they are doing."

Dr. O'Neill said the state BOE understands how difficult it is to hire a good teacher in the middle of the school year.

"They complimented us on how thorough (our first application) was, so it's not like there's a concern that it won't be approved," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007

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