ShareThis Page

Hampton classroom sizes studied, proposed budget approved

| Friday, May 11, 2018, 10:04 a.m.

The final proposed budget for 2018-19 was unanimously approved by the Hampton Township School Board last week, along with discussion and a review on classroom sizes.

The proposed final budget reflects revenues of $51,042,602, expenditures of $52,279,844 and a utilization of $649,000 from the district's own Public School Employees' Retirement System stabilization fund and $250,000 from the unassigned fund balance. A real estate tax rate increase from 18.77 mills to 18.98 mills, a .21 mills or 1.12 percent change, is proposed.

Some changes from April's proposed preliminary budget include reduction to only one-full time ESL educator instead of two due to lower projected enrollment, and Hampton's share of the A.W. Beattie Career Center budget reduced by $24,273 to a total of $653,058.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Loughead also relayed a recent visit to several elementary classrooms. He said he wanted to get a feel for how the students and teachers were functioning at the current class sizes, in terms of student population and actual size of the rooms, with a particular focus on the fourth and fifth grades. And he wanted to gauge what they were proposing for the coming school year.

Several parents recently voiced concern on elementary school class sizes, particularly at next year's fifth grade.

Amy Soloman, who has three children in Wyland Elementary, including a son in fourth grade, commented at the May 6 meeting that she hopes the board adjusts the budget to accommodate lower class sizes in the fifth grade.

She said when he was in third grade and the classes were in the high 20s, it was a challenge for him. Now in fourth grade, in a room with 21 students, it's helped him academically. She's concerned that going back to a higher population in fifth grade might be challenging for him and other students.

“I truly believe with my son's case it comes down to numbers,” said Soloman, noting that smaller classes help students and teachers to connect better. “The classroom feels better. It's more of a creative environment.”

Loughead spent an entire day visiting fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms at the schools, particularly those with 27 students at Wyland and Central, and requesting the teachers to have a normal day while he was there.

After observing structured and unstructured activity, he felt that those rooms did physically accommodate the number of students well and is comfortable with what is being proposed for next year. And he was impressed with how well the students handled themselves behaviorally in the classrooms.

Suggestions also have been made of hiring paraeducators to assist in larger classrooms.

His discussions with teachers indicated they were comfortable teaching classes with 27 students. However, they would support assistance in the case of a student who may need much more individual attention.

Loughead said teachers and principals said it's more important to have lower student populations in the lower grades.

Also, reviewing test data at these grade levels, he didn't notice anything that would give them significant pause that these sizes were going to have a negative effect on the students academically. And data actually showed positive growth prior to the reduction of class size in the current 2017-18 year.

Overall, he said after much review and discussion with teachers, he was comfortable with the present recommendations regarding the budget.

“It's very important we do what's right for our kids,” said Loughead.

Enrollment numbers at these grades can fluctuate between now and the beginning of the school year, so they continue to monitor the rooms.

He also thanked the feedback he receives from parents in the district.

“I appreciate the passion and concern from our families. That's why we have such a great district,” he said.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me