Austin ISD recommends larger middle, high school class sizes


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin ISD staff are recommending middle and high schools increase their target class sizes by two students, a proposed raise from 29 students to 31 students for the 2019-2020 school year.

If approved by the school board, the change would save the district an estimated $6.4 million.

Despite the increase and cost savings, district leaders said the change would not lead to teacher layoffs. Instead, they anticipate there will be enough teachers leaving the district to offset any eliminated positions. 

“We fully anticipate that we will be able to absorb any change in the staffing levels through teaching attrition,” said AISD Chief Human Capital Officer Dr. Fernando Medina. “Each year we lose anywhere from 500 to 600 teachers.”

The school board is expected to vote on the new class sizes during its meeting on Nov. 26.

The changes are proposed at all 17 high schools and 19 middle schools. Roughly 37,000 students would be impacted. 

The district’s employee union, Education Austin, is pushing back. Leaders argue the increase would hurt students’ ability to learn.

“We have to ask a question, ‘is it good for kids,’ said Ken Zarifis, the Education Austin President. “Is increasing class sizes good for kids, and our answer is no, and so we don’t want to see that happen.

In October the district was also considering the possibility of increasing the student to teacher ratio at elementary schools by one or two students per teacher. That option is no longer being looked it.

Austin ISD is currently facing a more than $17 million budget shortfall for the 2018-2019 school year.

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