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Cuts force increase in Ashland class sizes

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

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

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 include 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 grow 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 will have 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 because of the recession.

Parker said 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. Anyone 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.

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226, or hguzik@dailytidings.com.