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Carbon parents ask for lower numbers in district classrooms

Students participate in a fire drill. Parents within the Carbon School District are asking officials for smaller classes that are more evenly distributed.

Emery County Progress publisher

Two weeks ago Carbon School District administrators heard from upset parents at Castle Heights about the transfer of a teacher from the second grade in their school to a kindergarten at Wellington Elementary.

Last week the districts board of education heard from Wellington parents about the fact they feel their school has too many students in some classes and that something needs to be done about it.

"Our concern is that the fourth grade has over 30 kids in each class," the appointed spokesperson for the parents, Cody Gunter, told the board. "We hope you will look at these numbers and look at hiring more teachers."

Gunter told the board that a bubble of kids at the fourth grade level has been causing this situation since they started kindergarten. The parents presented numbers in classrooms at Wellington and compared them with Castle Heights.

"We don't want to take anything away from Castle Heights," she explained saying all the parents in the district were in the same boat. "But we feel the classes in the district should be smaller and the numbers evened out across the district."

Gunter said in the past the school had hired extra teachers, but that they had to use title one money they had for other things to do that.

"We just don't want to do that," she said. "When we take that money to do that then it hurts getting new equipment or hiring aides to help out."

Rebecca Mason, a parent at Castle Heights was also at the meeting and said that the change of teachers had been disruptive to both schools.

"I'll echo those sentiments," she said. "We need procedures to mitigate this problem of disruption and changing teachers after school begins. We should take this year as a learning lesson on how to handle these situations."

Another parent from Castle Heights who also spoke said that there should be more foresight in planning for the next school year.

"Our goal is to to get policies and procedures in place so that these problems can be addressed in the spring rather than in the fall after school starts," she said.

After the parents had their say the board told them that the problem with hiring more teachers isn't really in their hands.

"I think the people in this room agree with what you say and we are with you," said board member Ruby Cordova. "But the district gets its money on the weighted pupil unit and we only have so much to spend. What parents need to do is to contact legislators and the state board of education and tell them we need more money to get class sizes down."

Board member Wayne Woodward pointed out that the legislature makes it look like the districts are getting more money, but that money is so restricted that it can't be used for hiring teachers.

"They like to point out how generous they are," he said. "But they often give us money and then tell us how we can spend it. Everyone objects to that , but they don't seem to listen. The electorate needs to put pressure on them to allow us to have control of the money they give us."

One of the parents in the audience pointed out that the board room was quite nicely furnished and that the money could have been used to pay a teacher.

"I think in place of some of these nice chairs the money could have been used in a different way," said Michelle Stansfield.

Darin Lancaster, the district's business administrator, told the parents that the problem is that money in budgets is designated for certain kinds of things and can't be used for salaries.

"Capital money is in a certain pot and it can only be used for certain things," he said.

Woodward told the group that school finance is a complex subject and that "we wish they could give us the money and let us slug out how to use it" but that the way the money is set up means it is earmarked for only certain things.

Members of the board told the group, in the final analysis, they and the rest of the electorate were the ones that could force the hand of the legislature to give districts the money they needed to operate with smaller classes.

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