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Some Glendale Unified class sizes set to increase

Grades one through three will each be several students larger, officials say.

July 20, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Glendale Unified will slightly increase class sizes in first through third grades this coming school year to generate $1.1 million in ongoing savings.

The school board approved the change, which will increase the average class sizes from 24 students to 26, this week.

"Unfortunately, as a district, we're still dealing with a structural deficit," said Supt. Dick Sheehan, adding that the state's new funding formula for schools still posed questions for Glendale.

The district will keep its transitional kindergarten classes for those who turn 5 between Oct. 2 and Dec. 2 at 24 students, along with its main kindergarten classes. Students in fourth through sixth grades will remain at about 31 students per teacher.

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Earlier this year, 25 full-time elementary teachers took advantage of early retirement incentives. In June, school officials posed a scenario that would have entailed not filling those positions to save about $2.4 million.

Another scenario considered filling 21 of those teacher positions, which would cost $1.8 million and keep class sizes as they are at about 24 students.

But the option that ended up winning out this week involved hiring eight full-time elementary teachers, costing the district about $700,000.

"I think it's a good standpoint, still not knowing where we are financially," said school board member Greg Krikorian.

Since 2007, Glendale Unified has endured more than $30 million in budget cuts. But officials expressed optimism over the new state funding formula, which could mean roughly $4.8 million in additional money.

Additionally, the district's structural deficit is projected to fall from about $9 million to $5.8 million in 2016.

The district may also consider giving a 1% pay raise to all employees — who've had their salaries frozen for seven years — at a cost of $1.5 million.

Board member Mary Boger said she was pleased the district wouldn't endure further funding cuts.

She also supported the slight class size increase in the first three grades.

"I think this is a viable and feasible and reasonable approach," Boger said.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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