The Senate Education Committee gave tentative approval Wednesday to legislation that would end a policy of restricting class size in grades K-3, allowing school districts more flexibility in how they allocate their resources.
“I don’t know if ten kids in a classroom is better than 15 or not,” said Senator Jerry Tillman, a primary sponsor of Senate Bill 374. “I don’t know what that ideal number is and neither do you. What I do know is that if I have the flexibility to put that into computers, materials, staff training, I can do more with a finite or shrinking pot of money.”
Senator Angela Bryant voiced concern about the impact of this on low-wealth districts, and questioned how this increased flexibility might be tied to results.
Sen. Tillman responded:
“There’s no need to tie your test scores to anything else. They will stand for themselves, and we will know whether you made progress or not. And if the flexibility helps you make progress and you can say ‘I think this helped’ we will take a look at it. It does not say that you will be punished if you don’t, but let me tell you clearly they get that impression since they’re gonna have to do a report annually now on how they did, on their test scores. The hammer is there.”
The N.C. Association of Educators urged the committee to pilot the approach before rolling it out statewide.
Senate Bill 374 (NC Public Schools Budget Flexibility Act) passed on a voice vote and now moves the the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Click below to watch a portion of Wednesday’s committee meeting: