Sunday, September 16, 2012

Class Size at Lawrence Ave. Elementary School

There has been quite a bit of publicity about class sizes at Banford Elementary school in Canton.  I was curious to find out what happened at Potsdam when school started.  Class size projections were from 22 students in each classroom at Kindergarten to as many as 27 students in grade 3, for a total of 533 students in Kindergarten to Grade 4.  This does not include the anticipation of 14 mainstreamed students.  These numbers were found on the enrollment projections posted on the 4/3/12 agenda of the Board of Education's Finance Committee, linked below:

PreK-8 Enrollment Projections with Proposed Add Backs

At the school board meeting on Tuesday, 9/11/12, the enrollment numbers for the beginning of the school year were presented to the Board of Education.  I was somewhat astonished to read that the actual number for the school year is 484 students from Kindergarten to Grade 4, a difference of 49 fewer students.  There are a few more mainstreamed students.  It appears to be 21, if my addition is correct.  There are no class sizes higher than 21 in Kindergarten through Grade 3.  Half of the classes have less than 20 students.  Grade 4 students have 22 or 24 students in each class.  This is a far cry from the numbers presented to the public and used to justify adding back elementary staff.  The document I am referring to with these numbers is from the Elementary principal.  It can be found here:

LA Opening Day Enrollment and Class Sizes

This was not the only enrollment document provided to school board members at the meeting Tuesday night.  A second handout provided enrollment data for Pre-K through Grade 12.  This document shows that across the district, there are 31 fewer students than in 2011-12.  I did notice that the numbers reported for Kindergarten through grade 4 don't match with the Elementary principal's handout.  The total on this handout for those grades is 517.  I wonder which one is correct?  Are the numbers for Grades 5-12 accurate?  To see the second handout, go to this link:

Opening Day Enrollment

 Maybe we didn't need the elementary teacher add backs recommended by administration during the budget development process.  The Board of Education can't make very good decisions when they don't get accurate information.

1 comment:

  1. Without the add backs and teacher shifting to follow the large "bubble" years (current grade 1 and 3 in particular), there would have been large class sizes in grades 1, 3 and 4. Grade four, without the add back at the end of last year, would have been 33 students per section based on enrollments from last year.

    I guess I'm not sure what you're saying- while certainly the numbers you're presenting are not the same (which there may be some reason for, but since we don't know it's a fair question), at any single grade level at the elementary school, the numbers are not so far off that the board was misled into adding back more teachers than needed. Potsdam is extremely fortunate that we have been able to maintain class sizes at the elementary school (for now) at close to optimum levels- as the parent of two fourth graders I can tell you first hand that the extra 6 children in their classrooms last year and the extra 4 in them this year IS NOT optimal, but it's not as bad as it could have been.

    My question is related to the worst case scenario budget that predicated all of the "add-backs", and if it was truly necessary. I will be interested to see the state of the fund balance in the early spring, and will withhold judgement until then.