As part of the discussion over redistricting, at-Large Board of School Committee Member Rich Girard opened a discussion on high school class sizes. It came in response to administration claims that despite having 1,500 fewer students than it had in the past, West High School didn’t have the space needed to absorb about 400 seventh and eighth grade students from the Middle School At Parkside.
That discussion was raised because Girard revived a 2007 proposal to use available space at West to host the seventh and eighth grade classes currently at Parkside, and convert Parkside to an upper elementary school housing grades four through six to both eliminate overcrowding in the West Side’s three elementary schools and consolidate the district’s pre-kindergarten program, which is currently housed at multiple schools around the district. The plan would free up enough classrooms across the city to enable a needed redistricting of all eleven elementary schools on the city’s East Side.
At a special meeting held on February 29, 2016, administrators claimed that twenty two classrooms would be required to house the seventh and eighth grades at West and that if you filled all existing classes to thirty students, there wouldn’t be enough room to house the 400 plus students from Parkside. Girard countered by reading a class size report he’d obtained from the district as a journalist in October, before being elected to the board. Several classes had single digit and low double digit head counts, seemingly catching administrators off guard. It raised questions about whether or not the district, which once had more than seven thousand high schools students, needed three high schools for the fewer than four thousand it currently has.
Subsequent to the meeting, Girard requested an updated class size report for all of the city’s high schools in a format the district provided in response to inquiries Girard made in 2012. It shows, by teacher, exactly how many students are in each class throughout the day, by level, which makes it very easy to understand both the individual teacher’s class load and each classes student load.
Click here to access the report.