Overcrowding in Montrose classrooms

By: Christy Dimond Email
By: Christy Dimond Email

MONTROSE, Colo. (KKCO) -- Montrose County School District is facing a growing problem with overcrowding in classrooms.

District Superintendent Mark MacHale said some classes have up to 35 students, and the district has "dozens and dozens" of classes that are larger than preferred.

"We've lost about $7-8 million dollars in funding, and one of the ways we've handled that without letting people go is letting class sizes increase," MacHale said.

He estimated that the district would need to hire an additional 20 teachers to alleviate the problem-- something he said isn't possible with the funding cuts the district faces.

Overcrowding in classrooms concerns parents like Craig Wolverton, who has joined other parents and community members in creating the Community School Improvement Team.

"One of the biggest factors in my daughter's success has been her ability to connect with her teachers, and I think whether you're a teacher or a student, as the class size grows, that becomes more of a challenge," Wolverton said.

The Community School Improvement Team has held dozens of community meetings so far to address concerns with class size. Members also hold focus groups, forums and interviews with teachers.

MacHale said he is considering taking the issue to the 2013 ballot, asking tax payers to pay a tax increase to go towards Montrose school funding.

"We are running on a skeleton crew. We have the lowest number of administrators I've ever seen," MacHale said. "We have turned over every leaf that we can possibly find looking for money within our own organization. We need additional support."

He said overcrowding could jeopardize students' education.

"We are trying to get every student to a certain standard, and when we're asking our teachers to differentiate and make sure every student is accountable, you can't do that when you have 35 kids," MacHale said.

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