Tuesday, September 15, 2009

School Enrollments Hold Steady, Moody Remains Overcrowded

The School District's enrollment numbers at the beginning of September are very similar to those last December. Overall there was a 4% drop in the number of elementary students, with the largest reduction coming at Snow School, with 65 fewer students this year (an 18% drop).

Moody continues to be the only school which has more students than the building was designed to handle. An interim report from the JCJ Architecture firm, released in late May , indicated that Moody was built to house a maximum of 395 students, the current enrollment is higher than capacity by at least two classes. Moody has been forced to alter room uses over the past two years to accommodate all of the classes.

In addition, the average class size in grades 1 to 5 at Moody is higher than at any other elementary school.

capacitySeptember 4 enrollment% of Capacitymean class size, grades 1-5
Farm Hill40728870.8%18.1

The superintendent of schools office has paid close attention to the overcrowding at Moody. Last January Barbara Senges, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, expressed deep concern about the overcrowding, and in a meeting with the Moody School PTA told parents that this overcrowding would be addressed before the start of the school year.

Senges, as well as the parents, anticipated that a feasibility study commissioned by the Board of Education would make recommendations in April or May for alleviating Moody overcrowding and for addressing a racial imbalance at Macdonough. However, JCJ Architecture, which was hired by the Board for this study, recommended against any changes this past summer. Senges told me, "JCJ recommended, and the Board agreed, to put off any changes."

Senges said that the final JCJ report would undoubtedly recommend redistricting, "I definitely know that the recommendation from JCJ will move kids around." She also mentioned the possibility of changing the current arrangement of one school for all 6th graders (Keigwin), and one school for all 7th and 8th graders (Wilson), asking "Would it make more sense to have two 6, 7, 8 schools instead?" Senges said it didn't make sense to move students around this past summer because the more extensive changes which will take place next summer are not yet defined.

JCJ is due to turn in their final report in late November or early December, in time for the budget process to reflect any effects of the recommendations. Senges said, "This is the last year [Moody students and teachers] are going to have to deal with this issue."

The principal of Moody, Yolande Eldridge, told me in an interview that Moody was having no troubles because of too many students, "I don't hear the word 'overcrowding' in the school." Eldridge noted that Moody's test scores were good, and that some of the schools with much more space and with smaller class size were identified as "in need of improvement."

She said that over the summer she was able to move functions around to create needed space, for example moving Kids Corner into the Cafeteria, and turning a storage room into an office room. Her only regret was that there is no space to host all-school functions; Moody does not have a dedicated auditorium, and the gym can't even hold all students, let alone their parents too.

I asked Eldridge about redistricting, and what she considered to be an ideal enrollment for Moody. She simply responded, "We're in great shape. I consider us a good staff." She said JCJ were experts in redistricting, and would be taking many factors throughout the city into account in their recommendations, "It's not just about Moody."


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this report - it is very interesting.

Bill Wilson said...

Wow how does the Board of Education do nothing about the overcrowding at Moody, and yet every other elementary school in the city is below maximum "some by nearly 50%". Changes are needed on the Board and I am hopeful that will happen on November 3rd.

Anonymous said...

What the administration refuses to make public and the BOE does not request for some unknown reason is the class size by grade for each school, you will see these 50% full schools have larger class sizes beyond overcrowed Moody.

As far as the BOE it is time for a new Chair and leadership the current lack of connection with parents needs to change.

Voting Parent said...

Election time is nearing....many Bd of Ed members seem to forget that parents elected you to be our voice and advocate for the children of Middletown. When you watch the meetings you see a few members ask questions that parents might want asked..the others sit there and doodle. Many look annoyed when the parents who elected you come to speak. The Chair likes to get through the agenda as fast as he can...The Superintendent works for the Bd of Ed and we elected you to watch over everything. If you are not interested in being our voice please don't run again. You will not be supported. Those who have been parent advocates will definitely win. I have small children and they have many activities so it is impossible to attend these meetings but I try to watch on TV. Board members please remember why you were elected...certainly not to be the Superintendent's advocate.

Anonymous said...

The Board of Education can only work with the information provided to them from the education Administrators. If complete data is not given to the Board they have poor information to base decisions on.
A listing of CT towns was recently published for Board of Education Administrators. Middletowns Superintendent and the rest of the staff were either above average or almost at the top for wage earnings. Shouldn't our students and schools have the same rankings? Why don't they?
Just take a look at what we pay our Education Administrators, and ask if they are doing the best job they can, for the money they are being paid?
Supt of Schools for Middletown, $159,543 plus annuity
Asst. Supt of Schools in Middletown, $140,096.
Supt of Pupil Services in Middletown, $127,641.
Director of Facilities in Middletown, $122,043. (3rd highest in the State of Ct)
Business Manager for Middletown, a new position, $113,003.(starting salary)
These salaries do not include any other salary adjustment they may recieve.
Why don't the elected Board members take care of our children the way they take care of the Administrators?