Increasing Class Size and Reducing Course Offerings

At the last Board of Education meeting, Board members appeared to move away from consideration of increasing class sizes. However, the Board documents for this Monday’s meeting once again include options for drastically increasing class sizes. As teachers, we were encouraged by the Board’s movement toward reversibility and keeping cuts furthest away from student learning opportunities. As teachers, we know maintaining current class size is the best way to preserve the tradition of excellence and hope that direction continues despite these options being considered this week.

The teachers would again like to highlight the importance of maintaining current class sizes. Based upon their professional experience, teachers believe increased class sizes not only negatively impact that tradition but also are not easily reversible with student course selections already underway.  The numbers being considered for increases are large, as is the potential loss of course offerings.

In the December 10th and 17th Board Documents, class sizes of 25 through 28 are presented in the chart for possible savings.

The Board discussed how drastic these increases are. The teachers want to share just how drastic. 

  • The state average is 20:1.
  • The first and lowest increase under Board consideration, 25:1, is a 25% increase over state average.
  • 26:1 = 30% increase
  • 27:1 = 35% increase
  • 28:1 = 40% increase

Would such changes negatively impact the tradition of excellence?  Yes – by 25-40%.

Class sizes 25-40% above the state average are not in line with the District 86 Tradition of Excellence.

While the numbers alone stand to negatively impact our tradition of excellence, reducing course offerings is a likely side effect of increasing class sizes. Damage to our tradition of excellence is inevitable if courses such as those listed in the December 3 Board agenda stand to be lost:  

“Elective classes consist of those classes that go beyond required courses for graduation . . . electives are in science, mathematics, social studies, and English, not just arts and music, and the biggest reductions are not surprisingly in the core curriculum departments because those are the biggest departments. Reducing the number of sections or courses reduces opportunities for students. For example, at Central this year, had we staffed using 28 students per class, AP Physics C would have been reduced to one section from two and we would not even have run AP Seminar and Research.”

No one wants irreversible changes that lead to fewer opportunities for District 86 students.

For More on Class Size:

Class Size: The One Place We Don’t Want to Be Above Average

Statement to the Board on 12-10 by Kate Saunders