It’s the first week of class in Brown County and students and parents there are adjusting to transportation changes and larger classes. The school system consolidated fifth and sixth grade students into one intermediate school and closed an elementary school to make up for a nearly $1 million budget deficit.
Beth Drew has a sixth grader at Brown County’s Intermediate School. She says her son is excited to have more students in his class this year, but she says there have been some challenges associated with relocating 350 students. Transportation she says is particularly difficult because each elementary school used to have its own bus system.
“The shuttling system — basically we have to go to the outlying schools that are now the elementary schools. Whereas they all had their own bus system originally, now there is a system of shuttling from the elementary school over to some other outlying schools — so basically from the intermediate school to some of the outlying schools,” Drew says.
The average class size has increased from about 18 to as many as 28. As a part of the consolidation process, the school system also did not hire replacements for 16 teachers who retired.
School Principal Trent Austin says it’s an adjustment, but it’s going well.
“The challenge is anytime you make a change, there’s always concern, I understand that,” Austin says. “I have four children within this district myself. They went to Nashville Elementary and now they’re at Van Buren Elementary so our family is feeling the change as well. But as the community, we can embrace this change knowing that is best for our students, and it’s gonna be great for not only for our five thru six kids, but our K-12 as well.”
Austin says each day this week has gotten better as the district works through some of the kinks with the new consolidation.