This school year, 2,795 more students have enrolled into Montgomery County public schools, bringing the county’s total number up to 159,242 students. Since 2007, enrollment has increased within the county, leading to overpopulated schools and larger class sizes. At the Montgomery County Board of Education’s October meeting, it was projected that 19 high schools, seven middle schools, and 11 elementary level clusters will have capacity deficits between 2015 and 2021.
Teachers have begun teaching larger class periods to cope with the increasing number of students, lessening one-on-one time for extra help.
“I teach three class periods, each with 35 students. It makes it hard to find time to counsel each and every one of them on their papers,” said Mr. Koenig, an English teacher at Richard Montgomery. Other teachers agreed, resonating that there was less time available for each student to receive extra help.
Students claim they lose focus more often due to larger class sizes. “Teachers shouldn’t have to make an effort to control the class. We should all be paying attention. But with 33 kids in one classroom, it’s inevitable that we won’t be able to fully concentrate. I think that’s unfair for all of the students, and the teachers too,” said Austin Cheung, a sophomore at Richard Montgomery.
Aside from the internal issues in classrooms, the lack of physical space puts strains on schools. More and more teachers become “floaters,” travelling around schools with their materials on a cart and not having a classroom to call their own. Because of this, students have a harder time finding floating teachers during non-instructional time, making them less likely to make up quizzes or to ask for extra help.
Some schools have implemented additions to their campus, adding portable classroom trailers or extending their building. Julius West Middle School continues to renovate its building, adding extra space for more classrooms to accommodate for the increase in students.
However, the funding needed for these continued renovations poses an issue for Montgomery County. It is rare to find a school without any additions or plans to extend their building. With plans for a new middle school to open in Clarksburg, Montgomery County is in need of greater funding.
Nearly all of the school systems within Maryland are in need of a larger share of construction money. With a record of almost 880,000 students, Maryland public schools are projected to continue growing for the foreseeable future.
Article by Moco Student staff writer Reyna Choi of Richard Montgomery High School