Class Sizes and Offering

Making decisions on class size and offerings

September 10, 2018

Every year hiring the right number of teachers for our schools can be a very difficult challenge. As a district, our goals are to maintain appropriate class sizes at all grade levels while being able to offer a wide range of opportunities for our students, with the end result being they are college and career ready. Our district has been challenged to meet these goals because of under-funding from the state and declining enrollment for the past two years.

In the Spring of each year, our district tries to determine how many sections we will need in each grade level and the number of sections for each course offered at the high school and junior high. We do this based off of the information we have at that time. The information we consider are budget, student course selection, student count trends, and current class sizes. Even though this is the best information at the time, we understand all of it will change before the start of the following school year.

One of our biggest factors for the past two years has been the budget. Not only has the increase from the state been very low, but we have also experienced declining enrollment for the past two years. I know it is hard to believe that we have declining enrollment with the number of new homes being built, but that is the fact. A new home does not always mean new students. When we have declining enrollment, along with 1% new money from the state, our district was forced to reduce class sections and offer early retirement to afford our current staff and expenses for the 2018-19 school year.

The second factor that causes our predictions to be off is the mobility of families today. We can have as high as a 20% turnover of students in some of our buildings. For example, one class over three years went from 55 students to 45, and is now back to 53 students. Many of these moves happen in the summer. The number of students who are coming and going make it very difficult to predict the number of sections we will need to have in our buildings.

Finally, our district is much different than our neighboring districts. We are spread out over 220 square miles, so transportation is a major factor for us. It is hard to tell a family from Dixon that their kindergartener would need to go to Princeton to even out class sizes. We currently do not balance grade level sections by forcing families to attend schools outside of their attendance area.

In the future our district may need to consider different options for balancing class sizes. As for now, we have a great school district that is unique and focused on the educational goals we have set for ourselves.

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