Student-teacher ratio could rise with school merger

(WMC-TV) – A proposal is in the works that could cut the number of teachers while increasing class size when Shelby County and Memphis City Schools merge.

Officials with the Transition Planning Commission say that increasing this student-teacher ratio will be a last resort as details of the merger of Memphis City and Shelby County schools continue to be ironed out.

Millington's interim Mayor Linda Carter was at the front of the classroom for 31 years.

Carter is worried what will happen if class size goes up and the number of teachers does not.

"When you talk about increasing class size and decreasing teachers at the same time, increasing the quality of education, there's a conflict," Mayor Carter explained.

Millington is one of the municipalities looking at creating its own school district if Memphis City and Shelby County schools merge.

Transition Planning Commission officials say the increase in pupil-teacher ratio would save roughly $20 million of an additional $54 million in cuts that must happen by August 2013.

"I appreciate all the work the TPC has put into their planning, however, the bottom line is no matter what plans they present, approval must be made by the newly elected school board," said Carter.

Right now, Memphis City Schools has a 22 to one pupil-teacher ratio in middle schools.

The Shelby County Schools has a ratio of 28 to one.

In high schools, MCS has a 25 to one ratio while Shelby County is 28 to one.

Those numbers would go up by one should the increase take place.

"If slashing teachers and increasing class size is the last resort, then I think the next option ought to be a recommendation for a different approach to scheduling," said Carter.

She suggests a block scheduling approach if the student-teacher ratio must go up. Meanwhile, transition planning committee officials say they will look for every additional cut before cutting teachers and making classrooms bigger.

Another thing to note, 35 is the maximum number of students per class in grades seven through 12 as mandated by the state. Even if the pupil-teacher ratio has to go up, it will still be below state requirements.

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