Class sizes: Most are well below limits

Elementary enrollment projections were off by just one student this year, but predictions from building to building varied a bit more, according to the annual district enrollment report.

Overall the elementary school population dropped to 2,201 students, from 2,232 last year, according to the Oct. 1 enrollment figures, which are used as the official figures for the year. That’s a decline of 31 students from Oct. 1, 2011.

The district’s demographer projected that there would be 2,200 elementary students in the district this year.

Here’s how those projections broke down from school to school:

  • Barlow Mountain: 327 actual students, 319 projected.
  • Branchville: 405 actual, 427 projected.
  • Farmingville: 361 actual, 345 projected.
  • Ridgebury: 387 actual; 380 projected.
  • Scotland: 385 actual, 393 projected.
  • Veterans Park: 336 actual; 336 projected.

Most elementary school classes, 101 out of 111, or 91%, are below the school board’s “desired maximum” class size; four, or 4%, are at that level; six, or 5%, are at the maximum size, after which classes are split or paraprofessionals are brought in to aid teachers.

None of the 111 elementary school classes are above the cutoff point, according to the report prepared by Karen Dewing, director of personnel for the district.

The class size limits vary based on grade.

For kindergarten and first grade, the desired maximum is 20 students, and the “break point” maximum is 21. For second grade, it is 24 for both desired and break point maximum. Third through fifth grade share the same limits of 25 and 26 students.

But most classes are below the desired maximums.

Kindergarten class sizes range from 14 to 21 students and average 17.33 students per class districtwide. One class is at the desired maximum of 20 students and four classes are at the break point of 21 students.

First grade classes range from 14 to 21 students and average 17.94 students per class. One class is at the desired 20-student maximum and two are at the 21-student breakpoint.

Second grade classes range from 16 to 22 students per class and average 19.74 students per class. No second grade classes are near the 24-student desired and break-point maximum.

Third grade classes range from 17 to 22 students and average 21.33 students per class. No classes are at either of the board’s prescribed limits, and the school board has made it a priority to lower the limits for third grade.

Fourth grade classes range from 18 to 23 students per class and average 20.75 students each. No classes are at either of the maximums.

Fifth grade classes range from 20 to 25 students and average 21.78 students per class. Two classes are at the 25-student desired maximum.

Middle school

Middle school enrollment was off by four students. There were 1,273 students enrolled Oct. 1, compared with a projected 1,269. That’s down from 1,305 in 2011-12, 1,324 in 2010-11, and 1,353 in 2009-10.

East Ridge has 777 students, compared with 496 at Scotts Ridge.

Within each school and grade, class sizes were similar from subject to subject. For instance, in East Ridge sixth grade, class sizes averaged 21.1 students in English and 21.1 in mathematics, 21.3 in science and 21.3 in social studies. At Scotts Ridge, sixth grade classes in every subject have an average of 19 students per class.

In seventh grade at East Ridge, there are an average of 21.9 students per class in every subject, compared with between 20 and 20.5 at Scotts Ridge.

In eighth grade at East Ridge class sizes varied between 21.3 and 21.4, compared with class size averages between 22.1 and 22.4.

High school

High school enrollment hasn’t been in a tailspin. It’s down from last year, but it’s fluctuated in the past few years.

It was 1,752 in 2009-10, 1,770 the next year, 1,775 in 2011-12, and it was 1,763 on Oct. 1. But class sizes are generally lower at the high school than they were last year.

  • English classes average 22.01 students each, down from 22.47.
  • Mathematics classes are down a hair from 21.79 to 21.75.
  • Science classes dropped from an average of 21.54 students to 20.72.
  • Social studies class sizes increased from 21.43 to 21.75. World language classes dropped in size from 21.49 to 20.35.
  • Visual and performing arts classes dropped a student apiece, from 22.15 last year to 21.14.
  • Business courses dropped from 23.44 students to 23.3 this year.
  • Family and consumer science classes increased from 16.69 to 17.5 students.
  • Health classes dropped from 22.7 students to 22.6.
  • Physical education classes dropped from a spike of 27.96 students per class last year to 24.56, more in line with previous years.
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  • CMcQuilken

    “Kindergarten class sizes range from 14 to 21 …”

    This has been happening for many years, where one school has very small class sizes of 14 students, while another school will repeatedly have much larger class sizes of 21. A 50% increase in students.

    It’s time to redistrict. How can we leave such an imbalance in class sizes while waiting and waiting for the closing of an elementary school, something I think might never happen anyway. See how the closing of a school has been delayed yet again?

    We need to do this before yet another entire generation of elementary school kids pass through the system while experiencing unbalanced class sizes.

    And you know what, rebalancing the class sizes will save money while being fair to all. It’s time to fix this.

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