Friday, September 24, 2010

BOE Says Elementary Class Sizes "Look really good"

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Barbara Senges said that class sizes in Middletown's elementary schools are at predicted levels after the redistricting which was put in place this school year.

"I look at those class sizes," Senges said.  "And they look really good."

Senges said that class sizes across the district average between the high teens and the low twenties. The lowest class sizes are three kindergarten classes at Wesley School which are at 12, 14 and 15 students.  Initially, three fifth grade classes at Laurence School, and one fifth grade class at Macdonough, topped out at 28 students, but new teachers where assigned for each of those classes, effectively cutting class size in half in each case.

The teachers certified and are interventionists who were already in the system, though being paid an hourly wage of $20, and not on contract.  Interventionists are used in situations where individual students need special attention.

While the redistricting had two goals, to relieve overcrowding at Moody School, and to improve racial imbalance at Macdonough, Senges was only sure that one goal had been met.

"Moody's not crowded," Senges said.  "And they've gotten their rooms back."

Moody had been using offices and other non-classroom space as classrooms during severe overcrowding which occurred during previous school years.

Senges said she didn't know if Macdonough had achieved the goals of racial balance which had been projected with the redistricting.

"We don't know that yet," Senges said.  "But even if we don't make the goals, I don't think we will be sanctioned by the State Board of Education.  They just approved our plan and I have a feeling we will be given credit for making the effort."

Senges said she didn't know if the State Board of Education would make demands about racial balance after the current school year.

"The truth is, they (Macdonough) do a better job of handing kids classified in the free and subsidized programs," Senges said.  "All you have to do is look at the scores.  It's a real learning community."

Children in the free and subsidized lunch programs are often from families lacking financial resources, and have a high percentage of minority students.

"When we look at the class size numbers, we are really pleased with the effect redistricting has had," Senges said.

The enire district serves 2731 pre-K through fifth grade elementary school students.

School census as of Setember 14 is as follows:

Bielfield - 364
Farm Hill - 372
Laurence - 377
Macdonough - 251
Moody- 361
Snow - 352
Spencer - 342
Wesley - 312

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