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Large class sizes impact students' education

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Large class sizes impact students' education
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Inevitable and undesired changes are coming to public schools due to major deficiencies in their budgets. Faculty is being cut, which means the student to teacher ratio is increasing. At the Utica School District, some teachers have more than 30 students in a class. Our Cara Thomas spoke with one teacher who explains the effect large classroom sizes are having on the faculty and students.

UTICA, N.Y. -- There once was a time when class sizes were manageable, a time that wasn't that long ago.

Richard Calenzo, the Science Dept. Head at Proctor High School, remembers, "There were some classes that only had 12, 13, 14 students in them. They were smaller. There's no doubt about it."

But today due to faculty cuts and a continuing increase in student population, that's no longer feasible.

Proctor High School Principal Steven Falchi said, "When I first came here in '07-'08, we had a student population around 2,400 and we had a population when we began the school year somewhere around 2,750."

A normal class size in the Utica School District has more than 20 students, some even have more than 30.

"With better students, that's manageable, but you do not have that one-on-one type of help within the classroom itself," said Calenzo.

Through the frustration, teachers and students have had to adapt. Teachers are no longer able to change their teaching style based on the student's behaviors and abilities, simply because...

"There's too much curriculum and not enough time to cover it," said Calenzo.

Teachers say growing class sizes doesn’t only hinder the quality of a child’s education, eventually safety will be a concern as well.

Calenzo said, "A lot of these rooms as you may look through some of them you would wonder how 30 students could fit in there along with the teacher and desk and everything else. They're quite cramped."

Especially when it comes to science labs, where dozens of students are working with chemicals in a crowded area and with limited amounts of equipment.

Teachers say with more layoffs coming, class sizes will only continue to grow.

Falchi said, "The challenges are many but we have a resilient staff and our teachers roll with it and they work hard and we're very fortunate to have a dedicated staff."

Administrators say they don't see their financial situation getting better any time soon and chances are slim that classes would ever return to the size they once were.

The Utica School District is currently dealing with more than a $5 million deficit. They say 54 more teaching positions may be cut, 88 full time positions could be cut all together.

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