Average Kindergarten Class Exceeds Limit At 6 Schools Surpluses Too Small To Force New Sections

December 05, 1990|By Staff report

Kindergarten class sizes at six county schools are above the limit set by the school board but not by enough to trigger formation of additional classes.

Average class sizes in grades 1 through 12 generally fall within school system guidelines, according to reports presented to the school board at its Nov. 20 meeting.

Mushrooming enrollment at Waverly Elementary, which opened in September, prompted school officials to assign an additional teacher recently. The staff increase brought the school's average pupil-teacher ratio down from 26-to-1 to 25.1-to-1, close to the 25-1 ratio for grades 1 through 5 established by the board.

Waverly had 618 pupils Sept. 30. Last week, it had 666. Kindergarten classes at the school still have an average of 23 pupils, one more than the 22-1 ratio set by the board for such classes.

Deep Run Elementary, which also opened in September, has not been hit by an enrollment boom comparable to Waverly. Kindergarten classes at Deep Run average 18.4 pupils. Classes in grades 1 through 5 average 25.1.

In addition to Waverly, schools where kindergarten class sizes exceed the school system limits are Bollman Bridge, with an average of 22.2 pupils a session; Clarksville, 24; Hammond, 22.3; Northfield, 22.3; and Stevens Forest, 23.

Edward E. Alexander, director of elementary schools, said that when kindergarten enrollment reaches 48, school officials usually add one half-time kindergarten teacher and divide the 48 pupils into three sessions, bringing the average down to 16 children for each teacher.

Kindergarten enrollment at Clarksville Elementary rose to 97 pupils this fall, which would usually mean adding another half-time teacher and creating five kindergarten sessions, he said.

The problem at Clarksville is that the school simply does not have space for more than two morning and two afternoon kindergarten classes, he said.

His solution: Add an instructional assistant to help kindergarten teachers with large classes.

Average class sizes at Bushy Park Elementary -- 26 pupils -- appear to exceed the maximum, but Alexander said the school is not short-staffed under the formula of total enrollment divided by 25. Some principals prefer larger classes of a single grade rather than split-grade classes, he said.

Although average middle school class sizes generally fall close to the board's ratio of 20.5-to-1, Alice W. Haskins, director of middle schools, pointed out that averages can be deceptive.

Actual class sizes in Haskins' report ranged from three members of a language arts class at Wilde Lake to 37 pupils in a science class for gifted students at Patapsco Middle School.

In several middle schools, the largest classes are those in the gifted and talented program that can be offered only once a day because of scheduling problems, Haskins said in her report.

She suggested that the board consider related arts (physical education, art, music, home economics, industrial arts and health) outside the staffing ratio. The seven teachers for related arts subjects would be assigned to each school and the 20.5-1 ratio would then be used to staff the school for academic subjects.

Seven teachers at each of 11 middle schools would cost the school system $2.5 million, reported Sydney L. Cousin, associate superintendent for finance and operations.

Board chairman Karen B. Campbell asked Haskins for a report explaining how her proposal would work.

Class sizes in county high schools decreased by an average of .23 students between last academic year and this year, reported Daniel L. Jett, director of high schools.

Average class sizes at all high schools except Centennial were below the 23.5-1 ratio set by the board. Jett has attributed the higher class sizes at Centennial primarily to the school's seven-period day.

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