SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Schools across Texas continue to deal with overcrowding. The San Marcos CISD school board has been split on the best way to manage it in their district.
While Texas schools mandate a maximum 22 students in kindergarten through 4th grade classrooms, schools often request waivers to go over that limit.
In June, San Marcos CISD voted to eliminate waivers, in order to keep classrooms small. The decision boosted morale for both teachers and parents.
“We thought it was a done deal,” said Susan Seaton, an intervention teacher at Crockett Elementary. “The vote was taken, the promise was made to San Marcos, and we figured that was it.”
But on Monday night, the decision was called into question. Last week the district saw it’s highest enrollment in history, and the numbers are still going up. They’ve had to bus children to other schools to satisfy the 22:1 ratio.
Dr. Lolly Guerra, Human Resources Assistant Superintendent, asked the board for direction on three possible solutions. She said they would either have to hire additional teachers, request waivers or hold firm on the ratio and continue transferring students to other campuses.
“I believe in the 22:1 ratio but there are problems with it,” said San Marcos CISD principal, Niki Konecki. She went on to say, “Then the parent calls, us splitting up a class, that’s a nightmare too. ‘Please don’t take my kid, they already love their teacher, they’ve never been in school before, they don’t need to start with another new teacher’.”
But several teachers showed up to the board meeting united in purple, rallying for small class sizes.
“When you get two backpacks, two lunch boxes and some books, the cubbies get quite tight. That’s why it was built for 22 and we want to keep it at 22,” said Seaton. She says anything higher than that becomes classroom management, rather than teaching.
After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 4-3 to keep the 22:1 enrollment cap and hire new teachers. Dr. Guerra says they’ll need at least two, and possibly more later in the school year.
Board members in favor of the motion included Miguel Arredondo, Anna Halsey, John McGlothlin and Lupe Costilla. The opposing board members were John Crowley, Margie Villalpando and Kathy Hansen.
“It’s not just a win for us, it’s a win for the students in San Marcos. I do understand the space issues but there’s ways to get creative, we’ll work on that as we’re going through,” said Seaton. “But the fact is the parents in our community and the teachers can be assured that it’s going to be a 22:1 in elementary school.”
Last year, the district hit its peak enrollment in October.