Crowded classrooms a problem on High Desert

Statewide, 76 percent of teachers say classrooms too full

Full classrooms pose problem in Oregon

BEND, Ore. - A new report shows Oregon class sizes are impacting lessons. The recently released survey of Oregon teachers, ordered by the Department of Education, shows 76 percent of instructors say classrooms are too crowded.

Results were released Wednesday of the survey, conducted through the New Teacher Center's Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning survey.

Survey results for Bend La Pine Schools are a little better than the state average, but still bleak.

Seventy-four percent of teachers report overcrowded classes are a problem.

"I wasn't surprised. During the great recession we've had to increase class sizes and I can definitely understand the frustrations from the teachers," Bend-La Pine School Board member Andy High said Thursday.

High said with increased state funding the district has slowly addressed the problem, adding teachers last year and budgeting funding for more teachers next year.

District spokeswoman Julianne Repman said next year some elementary and high school classes will shrink by one student.

District data shows since 2012, class sizes have gone down by two students in kindergarten,first grade, second grade and high school.

Middle school class sizes have shrunk, on average, by half a student.

In kindergarten, the average class size is 22 students.

"What we struggle with still is PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) savings, administrative costs. We could see more from the Legislature," High said.

Add Bend-La Pine's skyrocketing enrollment of more than 200 new students each year to the mix, and High says stretching dollars will still be a challenge, even with two new schools being built.

"As you are growing, you do get more money from the state, but you don't get dollars allocated to where you're going to put them," High said.

A voter-approved bond to finish two new schools already under construction is part of the solution -- but full-time kindergarten is also on the horizon.

"We have a huge challenge coming up in 2015, where the Legislature has mandated full-day kindergarten, but they haven't identified how they're going to fund it, or if local districts are going to be required to fund that," High said.

Bend-La Pine's new schools will not reduce class sizes overall, but instead help alleviate overcrowded schools now using modular and other makeshift classrooms.

For more information on the survey, visit or see the news release (with links) in the related items area beside this story.

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