Schools have tough time estimating new students



ATLANTA - Some metro school districts are scrambling to hire more teachers, just a month into the school year. Others are looking to lay off teachers because they have too many.

Gwinnett County needed to hire an extra 720 teachers this year, and they're still hiring.

It's the biggest district in the state with 164,000 students, making it difficult to predict exactly how many teachers they'll need.

Predicting how many teachers a district needs requires the district to predict how many students it will have. It can be a tough task.

Anita Johnson said DeKalb County didn't do it very well at Southwest DeKalb High School. Her 11th grade daughter didn't have a math teacher.

"(The) entire school did not have math teachers," Johnson said.

A spokesman for DeKalb Schools told Channel 2's Tom Bachman they needed more teachers than expected and Johnson said her daughter now has a math teacher, but the class is huge and she's still not happy.

"In any business you wouldn't do this because you know you'd be fired, "Johnson said.

At Hopkins Elementary, Gwinnett County's largest elementary school, they have 1,848 students. That's 109 more than they expected. District-wide Gwinnett has 2,000 extra students. But a district representative said the district underestimates on purpose.

"We want to hire the right number of teachers. We don't want to overhire. In case students don't show we don't want to cause layoffs," said Jorge Quintana, Gwinnett County Schools Spokesman

Hiring teachers during the school year is better than firing teachers. But one parent Bachman too few teachers can make for extra-crowded classrooms.

Through an interpreter, parent Rosalia Carbajal she said that one teacher and 20 students is hard enough; having more than that is how accidents can happen.

Bachman was unable to obtain the projection numbers from Cobb County, but they told him they did hire some extra teachers at the start of the school year.

Fulton County told Bachman they actually overestimated the number of students slightly and did not have to lay off any teachers.