Hawkins County

Overcrowding at Hawkins County school forces classes in unusual places

Overcrowding leads to learning in unusual places

HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. - An elementary school in Hawkins County is dealing with overcrowding, causing teachers to hold class anywhere they can find room -- some are even splitting classrooms for additional classes.

Students who need extra help on tests are having to go to hallways and the teacher's lounge at Surgoinsville Elementary School, because space is very limited. "We have several people in storage closets and in the hallways doing interventions for small group learning that the kids need," says third grade teacher Mindy Hunley.

Hunley tells us when students have to be pulled out for testing, there is nowhere to take them. "They have to be pulled out into the hallway, which isn't ideal, because there is a lot of traffic and different things that could distract them," she said.

Principal Susan Trent tells us currently the school has kindergarten through fourth grade, and they have around 440 students in all. Trent says despite the problems, they are still under the state mandate for class sizes. "No one never knows as we continue to increase when that's going to go over. Of course, that's when we're going to have to have an additional teacher," she said.

Trent tells us the school board is aware of the problem and they are looking at options to make it better. She says the main option is to build onto the school, which was built in the 1950s.

Trent says the building has already been expanded three times. "Hopefully, the [next round of construction] is going to be started and hopefully we'll be the ones that are a part of that funding. [The project would] add some rooms to our building," she said.

Meanwhile teachers like Mindy Hunley hope the school board moves quickly. "We really need the extra space to have [the students] have the best possible education," she said.

Principal Trent tells us despite the space issues the school has faced, academic achievement hasn't been affected. She says the school continues to make straight As.

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