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School district's class sizes to increase by 20 percent

Class sizes will increase by 20 percent at Ashland Middle School and Ashland High School in the fall due to budget cuts that eliminated the equivalent of about 30 full-time teaching positions, according to the superintendent.

Ashland elementary school classes will be about 9 percent larger than they were the past school year, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said on Wednesday.

Average class sizes at the high school and middle school will increase from 25 to 30 students, she said. At the high school, some classes may accommodate as few as 20 students or as many as 40, Di Chiro added.

"The big increase is really at the middle school and high school," she said.

Elementary school classrooms will swell from an average of about 23 or 24 students to about 25 or 26, Di Chiro said. The lower grades will have fewer students per class, while fourth and fifth grade classrooms accommodate more students, she said.

"The district's administrative staff has attempted to adjust staffing levels so that the children in the elementary grades will be impacted the least," School Board Vice Chair Heidi Parker said in an e-mail message.

The district's $22 million budget for the next school year is 14.8 percent lower than the previous year's. In total, 56 positions were cut as the district grappled with declining state funds for education due to the recession.

Parker said that those concerned about the larger class sizes should consider helping out in Ashland schools.

"This is a time when we need parent and community volunteer help more than ever," she said.

Marigny Goodyear is serving as the district's a new volunteer coordinator, Parker said. Those interested in volunteering can e-mail her at volunteer@ashland.k12.or.us or log on to www.ashland.k12.or.us in mid-August for more information.

Although the cuts have left a sting, Parker said she feels the district will find a way to overcome them.

"With the help of our community, Ashland schools will come through this difficult time with the strength and creativity that we're known for throughout the state," she said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.