Waiver request is OK'd

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education accepted a recommendation from the Newton County School System that will allow the system to submit waivers to the state if any elementary or middle school grade exceeds the state-mandated maximum class size.

At their September regular session meeting, the school board members unanimously approved Superintendent Steven Whatley's recommendation that the board adopt a Class Size Waiver Resolution authorizing the school system to submit a Class Size Waiver Application to the state Board of Education for any kindergarten through eighth-grade class that goes over the maximum class size by one student.

"This resolution will allow us to make application for a waiver as needed in a timely manner and authorizes applications for future waivers during this school year," Whatley said in his recommendation. "Without this resolution, the school system would be required to employ a teacher and redistribute students in a grade level that may be one student over maximum class size. ... The waiver allows for flexibility in systems such as ours, where students are transferring in and out throughout the year."

Since 2006, school systems are required to submit a waiver application to the state when a class goes over the maximum class size by one student.

So far this school year, the school system has one second-grade class at Mansfield Elementary School that is over, said Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administrative services.

She told the board members during a work session that a second-grade class at Fairview Elementary School was over at one point but back under at another time. As of Friday morning, she said Fairview didn't have any classes over the maximum class size requirements.

Class sizes are known to be over the maximum in December, when students are likely to transfer in and out of schools due to relocation, but also can occur in other months.

Robertson said the state typically approves waivers.

During the 2006-07 school year, which was the first year the waivers were required, the school system applied for and received 17 waivers - 11 in December, four in February and two in April, Robertson reported in November, when the board last approved the school system to submit state waivers.

She said Friday that she reports any class size waivers in her administrative services report to the board every month, but according to the reports, none have been presented from November through August.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.