The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Education

May 30, 2014

Parents concerned with class size

GOOSE LAKE — Some Northeast School District parents are worried about their children going into a first-grade class with a class size of around 24 students.

Andrea Thompson believes smaller class sizes are better for younger students and was discouraged to hear her child will go from a 14-student kindergarten classroom to a 24-student classroom for first grade next school year. She started a petition and brought her thoughts to the board of education during the monthly board meeting on Wednesday night.

“One person to 24, 6-year-old little kids is really difficult,” Thompson said.

Superintendent Jim Cox explained Wednesday night that he would love to have additional students in first grade to allow for a third class. The estimated amount of students going into next year’s first-grade class is currently 48. Cox and Business Manager Kristy Weiss estimated the cost of an elementary teacher, fresh out of college, at $55,000, including benefits.

Elementary School Principal Diane Schumacher agreed that while 24 children in one classroom is not ideal, justifying a third class can be difficult. Currently, the school is planning one combined class of first- and second-grade students to allow for smaller classes, much like what is already done with fifth- and sixth-grade students. Thompson said she was not sure if she would be in favor of such a plan.

Ultimately, Cox said the district will need to wait and see how many children sign up for first grade at registration. The board, including Board President Chuck Corr, agreed with this plan.

“We can do some predictions right now, but who knows what it will become over the summer,” Corr said.

Corr added that while the board wants to do the best for students, its concern also has to be educating children 10 years from now.

“Budgetary constrictions become very important to us,” Corr said.

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