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District to Cut 1st- and 2nd-Grade Class Sizes for Fall Term

August 03, 1996|HOPE HAMASHIGE

Classes for first- and second-graders will have no more than 20 students when school starts in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in September.

"We can do this, and we are going to do this," Supt. Mac Bernd told a jubilant crowd of parents Thursday night at a Board of Trustees meeting.

The state of California is offering $650 a student for the coming school year for districts that can successfully reduce class size, but Newport-Mesa's board will have to come up with $1.1 million it had not budgeted. The state grant will cover only about $2 million of the $3.1 million the district needs to hire 67 new teachers, officials.

"There really is no such thing as a free lunch," said Board President Jim de Boom, who expressed mixed feelings about reducing class size for first and second grades if doing so affects all other elementary schoolchildren.

"We figure we are taking away $100 per kid in kindergarten, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade to make up for the kids in first and second," de Boom said. That will mean fewer classroom aides and fewer classroom supplies, he said.

Board members voted unanimously, however, for the class-size reduction plan.

"The plan is a lot more palatable than I thought it would be," Trustee James M. Ferryman said. "We didn't have to tap into the reserves or cut something major like transportation."

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