Creating smaller class sizes is a much talked about idea among teachers in Lodi Unified School District, but district officials say it is too expensive at this time.
Tim Hern, associate superintendent and chief business officer, said the cost of reducing class sizes is higher than most people anticipate.
To reduce every class in Lodi Unified by one student, the district would have to hire 24.8 teachers. The cost of hiring a new teacher is $57,116. Making classes smaller by one student will cost nearly $1.5 million, before adding on other custodial and utility costs associated with opening more classrooms.
The state provides funding for class size reduction, but in recent years districts have the option to sweep those funds into other categories. When the budget crunch hit in 2009, those funds went to help maintain other programs.
When Proposition 30 passed in November, the Lodi Education Association was eager to bring class size reduction back to the bargaining table.
Larger classes sizes don't cause one single issue, said Jeff Johnston, president of the LEA. It becomes a question of logistics.
The workload to correct homework or classwork increases. Teachers have less one-on-one time per child, and classroom management problems escalate more quickly.
In some classes, like physical education or a science course in high school, class size is a question of safety.
In larger classes, Johnston said it is easier for a student to fall behind in coursework or with personal problems.
"If you don't have the opportunity to get to know the child, you miss the time when you can help them the most," he said.
Pinpointing an ideal class size isn't easy, said Johnston.
"I can't tell you we have a target in mind; it's just that the situation needs to be improved," said Johnston.