With the best budget prospects in years, East Bay school districts are finally taking a look at reducing their bloated class sizes after five years of brutal cuts.
Less money forced school districts to cut staff so class sizes grew and individual students got less attention, school officials say. Now with new funding-based incentives coming from Sacramento, districts are budgeting for more teachers, which they hope will bring down class sizes and improve the education of area children.
The largest class sizes to be found in the region are in Union City where schools had an average of 34 students per class districtwide for the 2011-12 school year, the latest numbers available from the California Department of Education. School officials there estimate that high school classes in Union City this year will average 37 students.
"I don't think it's going to get any worse than this," said Derek McNamara, chief personnel officer at the New Haven Unified School that serves Union City. "Our highest funding priority is to lower class size, but we have to budget for that. A large class size is not a good thing."