Already suffering from state budget cuts, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools now have to deal with an overcrowding problem as well.
Elementary schools are already overtaxing teachers and high schools in the system could face losing their accreditation if the problem persists, educators say.
As school started last week, 300 more students than the state anticipated enrolled in the system.
More than 200 of these students enrolled at the elementary level with Elizabeth Seawell Elementary and Glenwood Elementary being the most crowded, said Kevin Morgenstein Fuerst, coordinator of student enrollment.
And though elementary schools don’t receive accreditation and can’t lose it, they are bearing the brunt of the problem, Superintendent Tom Forcella said.
Eric Houck, a professor at the UNC School of Education, said large class sizes from overcrowding can place too much stress on teachers.
That can harm the classroom experience of students, he said.
To alleviate the overcrowding, the Orange County Board of Commissioners approved Elementary School 11, a project to build an additional school in Chapel Hill.
The project — which has been delayed in the past because of a lack of funding — will consist of a 100,000-square-foot building for pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.
Forcella said the county has enough funds to begin the process but will need to dip into their reserve budgets to sustain ongoing school programs.