N.C. class size law may cause arts, P.E. classes to be cut

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A state mandate for smaller class sizes has some school districts up in arms.

A piece of legislation would limit the number of students in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.

In order to abide by it, some districts are going to have to make changes school-wide, like eliminating arts and physical education classes.

“The legislation, if passed, will take away in many cases the very thing that students come to school for,” said Marty Baker. Wahl Coates Elementary School principal.

State legislators are not trying to eliminate physical education or art, but those programs could be cut in an effort to limit class sizes.

The General Assembly wants to reduce the number of students per classroom; however, there is not enough money to do so.

“Pitt County Schools potentially would lose up to 65 teaching positions,” said Dr. Travis Lewis, the school system’s director of student services and public information officer.

The first set of programs to go could be arts and physical education.

“Children need the arts for learning,” said Jane Austen Behan, art education program director for Pitt County Schools. “They need the arts for brain development.”

Music teacher Dawn Wilson said the arts bring multiple subjects together.

“We do it all — English language, arts, math, science, social studies, and we do it in a fun way while still learning the objectives for our subject,” Wilson said.

Nothing is set in stone yet regarding the legislation.

Most of Lenoir County’s schools already meet the guidelines.

Craven County schools want to work with legislators to find a solution.

In Pitt County, officials want a change as soon as possible.

“We are thrilled that the legislature’s taken interest in reducing class sizes, however; the approach that they’re taking is very concerning,” said Lewis.

State representative Susan Martin said she is aware of the issue and is confident the state government will work to change the legislation.

The general assembly reconvenes Wednesday.

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