As we approach Personnel Season, a common question that often comes up relates to class size requirements (teacher-pupil ratio). W. Va. Code 18-5-18a, which sets forth the maximum teacher-pupil ratio, can be quite confusing. What follows is our Education Law Group’s quick reference for class size requirements for West Virginia county boards of education.
- A. Kindergarten – no more than 20 students; however, under extraordinary circumstances up to 23 students after successful application by the county to the State Superintendent.
- B. Grades 1 through 3 – no more than 25. No exceptions.
- C. Grades 4 thought 6 - no more than 25 students; however, under extraordinary circumstances up to 28 students after successful application by the County to the State Superintendent.
- A state-wide exemption is granted for class size up to 28 students in a school with a school-wide teacher-student ratio of 25 to one or less (to determine this calculation, see WVDE Policy 2442.3).
- In grades 4 through 6, a State-wide exemption is granted for a physical educationclass for up to 28 students.
- D. Class size limitations shall not apply to instruction in choral, band, or orchestra.
What is meant by extraordinary circumstances? West Virginia Department of Education Policy 2442.3 provides that a county board of education may only apply for exception to the teacher-student ratio requirements under certain extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary circumstances are defined as situations which place unreasonable burdens or hardships on the Board of Education. Extraordinary circumstances include, but are not limited to, situations where:
- A. The number of available classrooms is inadequate and a realignment of school attendance zones will not solve the problem.
- B. Placing children in existing but less crowded classrooms will result in split grades in excess of the allowable number for the county.
- C. Students have been assigned to classrooms and there is an unexpected increase in student population which causes class enrollment to exceed the statutory ratio.
- D. Other catastrophic events occur which are beyond the power of the local board to control such as fire, flood or other damage to existing classroom space or facilities.
Requests for extraordinary exceptions are reviewed by the West Virginia Department of Education. Additional information may be solicited and, if necessary, an on-site study may be conducted. The decision to approve or reject exception requests will be made by the State Superintendent of Schools within a reasonable period to time and will be communicated in writing to the County Board of Education.
Of course, keep in mind no teacher shall be assigned more than three students above the teacher/student ratio. Any kindergarten teacher who has more than 20 students per session and any classroom teacher of grades four through six who has more than 25 students shall be paid additional compensation based on the affected classroom teacher’s average daily salary divided by 20 for kindergarten teachers or 25 for teachers of grades four through six for every day times the number of additional students enrolled up to the maximum students permitted in the teacher’s classroom. All such additional compensation shall be paid from county funds exclusively.