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Available Classroom Space Becomes a Potential Problem for Growing District 308

Some classrooms in the district have over 30 students.

With the growth of the Oswego 308 School District, the Board of Education will begin to start looking at classroom sizes and the options available.

At the Monday night board meeting, Superintendent Matthew Wendt brought to attention the variety of numbers across the district in terms of students in classes.

He mentioned, for example, that two sections of fifth grade at Hunt Club and two sections of kindergarten at Long Beach each had 16 students apiece, while a fifth grade at Churchill and a fourth and second grade at Homestead have between 30 and 33 students each.

“Once we get into that 32, 33 category you can imagine the situation we find ourselves in to add the next teacher,” said Wendt. Adding a new teacher to that classroom drops the average to around 16 students.

Classrooms with students in the low to mid 20’s Wendt said do not pose a problem, but the ones in the high 20’s and rising into the 30’s do.

Currently Wendt is working to get a report on how many students are in each individual elementary class, and will then move onto the junior high, which he said is more problematic.

If the school hired more teachers, Wendt said, would there even be any place to put the new classroom?

He asked fellow board members for their suggestions or opinions on the matter.

Brent Lightfoot suggested adding a column for the total number of useable classrooms in each building. “If we wanted to create another class, could we?” he asked. “We can’t always look at capacity numbers.”

Wendt said that some classrooms designated for certain activities, like reading time, could be made into classrooms. “If it’s acceptable that we make those changes, would we want those to be classrooms?”

Some rooms that could be up for use, for example, have no windows or are smaller than normal.

“We need to talk about the size of the rooms,” said board vice-president Alison Swanson.

“As long as we have a common understanding of what a room is, that’s fine,” said Lightfoot. He suggested that if absolutely necessary programs like ‘art on a cart’ could be brought back. “We’ve done it before, we can do it again.”

“Not every elementary classroom is created equal,” said Wendt, saying that was the problem at just looking at the number of classrooms. “Are there classrooms where can put 30 kids? Are there classrooms we cannot physically put 30 kids?”

A more detailed report will be available once each elementary school has been examined. 

JimmyJ September 20, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Interesting editorial in the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-teachers-20120919,0,1776515.story Charter schools....non union, lower paid teachers yet the students excel much more than their peers at higher paid union schools. There must be something more to it, what is it and why?
Jane Enviere September 20, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Actually there is a lot more to it. This article is a nice summary of two significant studies on charter schools. http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/charter-schools-no-panacea-for-public-schools-problems_2011-03-06.html I have a couple of friends - certified teachers with advanced degrees who did stints in charter schools and both schools were full of turnover and other problems. They were delighted to head back to public schools - even though it meant pay cuts.
Tom September 20, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Interesting article on Charter schools. Are they really producing better results? http://www.educationjustice.org/newsletters/nlej_iss21_art5_detail_CharterSchoolAchievement.htm
JimmyJ September 20, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Well I suppose it's open to debate. Maybe the teachers feel they are failures, but there are 19,000 on waiting lists in Chicago to get into them. One thing is certain, CPS now had a deficit that is insurmountable without closures. They will happen and many of those teachers probably should bank their pay raise because they will be out of work. The condition of anything with the word "public" attached to it is in a very bad position these days.
Doug Collie September 22, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I'm not sure that anyone will read this because I'm joining the conversation late. Jim I'm not sure that you have a point if you are coming from such an uninformed position. The state of Illinois is currently the worst in funding for special needs in the United States and when my special needs child was born 12 years ago the state was in the mid 40's. Yes, that's correct we are behind Mississippi and Arkansas. Because the federal mandate on providing services to individuals with special needs is so vague states are regularly cutting these budgets when there is shortfall in general budgets. That sacred cow you mentioned is damn near dead as it is in this state. By the way, there are special needs individuals and typical individuals. Normal is not a term that is appropriate or accurate.

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