Class size too high for concerned parents at North Trail
Estimating attendance and keeping class size low is a consistently challenging puzzle school districts attempt to put together every year.
Even after boundaries were redrawn in the Farmington Area School District, there were still a few class sizes that exceeded the district’s comfort level for the 2014-15 school year.
Superintendent Jay Haugen said the district’s enrollment is up with 124 students more than projected. The district will receive a more accurate attendance number by Oct. 1, as some students either don’t show up while other students move in.
At Monday’s District 192 School Board meeting, parent Jennifer Steffes spoke during public comment to represent a group of five parents who were concerned about North Trail Elementary’s fifth-grade class size, which has three classes for 101 students.
Steffes spoke of the benefits of a small class size and recommend hiring another teacher.
The district’s guideline for fifth-grade is class sizes in the 27-30 range. If it’s over 30, the district is to consider an additional teacher and/or an instructional aide. The current class size is 34 students.
Haugen said fifth-grade classes won’t start on Tuesday without help. The help could come in the form of a paraprofessional or changing a portion of another staff member’s schedule.
“We’ll have some clarity in the next day or two,” Haugen said. “Four is the highest we’ve had. The issue is they have the correct staff for the whole building, but it’s too late. It’s hard to move staff from one grade to the other, so we’re trying to find another solution.”
Haugen noted that first-grade class sizes at North Trail are around 20, five lower than the guideline.
“We really try to watch the (kindergarten through second grade),” Haugen said.
Historically, the district has exceeded the guideline number by a few students periodically. In recent years, the district has had about six to seven classrooms over the guideline but it has lower since the district redrew its boundaries this year, according to Haugen.
This year it’s fifth-grade classrooms at North Trail and the fifth-grade at Farmington Elementary, where the school is also getting some help.
“When it’s only one or two, it sticks out more,” Haugen said.
Middle school and high school class size guidelines are in the low to mid-30s. At the elementary level, kindergarten through second grade the class size guideline is 20-25 students; fourth and fifth grades is 25-28.