Crowded classes: 'It takes a lot longer to get through the material'

Crowded classes: 'It takes a lot longer to get through the material' »Play Video
Kristin Hayward's 7th grade social studies class has 43 students. (KATU photo)

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Teaching seventh grade social studies to 43 kids is a challenge for Kristin Hayward.

“It takes a lot longer to get through the material,” she said. “So we’re cramming things in at the end, hoping that we can just keep moving forward.”

Crowded classrooms are common in the Beaverton School District, especially since the district cut nearly 100 teachers from its budget last year.

But could the district have cut something else instead of teachers?

School board member Sarah Smith says yes. “Could we have cut all sports last year? Yes, we could have. We could have made that decision,” Smith said.

But with everything from administration to custodial staff already cut down, Smith said anything they could have cut would have hurt students just as much as cutting teachers.

“Would you have cut all sports across the district to save four teachers? How many students are you damaging by saving that small number of teachers?”

There is one thing the district could have cut to save money: School days. Smith says each day cut saves the district about $1 million, which is enough to cover the cost of employing 11 teachers.

“I want to maintain quality as best we can, and if that means the only possible way is cutting days, then I lean toward that,” said Smith.

So why couldn’t the district cut more school days to save some of those teachers laid off last year?

Smith and teachers who spoke with KATU said the teachers union only offered to cut five days from the calendar, which the district did.

A union representative did not return a call from KATU on Tuesday.

On May 21, voters will decide on a levy that would give the district $15 million a year for five years. The cost for voters is based on their property value.