This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Class Size Projections Show Wide Disparity

A close look at the class size projections contained in the just released  FY13 Budget Draft  [see post below for full summary of budget] shows a slight improvement overall on elementary class sizes with fewer classes in the 25+ range that most troubles parents. But there is also a wider fluctuation between the schools than in past years. The district maintains an official class size limit of 25 in grades 1 and 2, and 30 in grades 3-5.

Hannah has the two largest class size projections with 28.5 projected for the 4th grade and 27 for 5th. Ayers also shows a projection of 26.7 for 4th grade. These 4th grade numbers contrast sharply with Centerville, which shows 19.7 students per section next year.

Last year, Centerville parents made a strong showing at the public hearing to speak out against their large 3rd grade class.  The class, which was compressed from 3 sections to 2 last year, will return to 3 sections in 4th grade. In addition, the district is adding a section for next year's 3rd grade class.

The Centerville numbers overall stand out as—by far—the lowest in the district [see update below]. In addition to grade 4, the numbers range from an almost unheard of (at least by Beverly standards) 15.5 in 1st grade to 20 in grade 2, 20.3 in grade 3, and 21.7 in grade 5.

In the lower grades, North Beverly's 1st and 2nd grades are both bumping up against the district's maximum 25 with projected sizes of 24 and 24.7 respectively. Ayers also has a projected 24.3 first grade, a far cry from Centerville's 15.5.

Below are the full class size projections for all the elementary schools:

Class size is generally the most discussed issue at the annual budget hearing, which will be held Tuesday night at 7pm at Beverly High School. Please make an effort to attend.

Disclosure: This blogger's daughter will be a Hannah 4th grader next year, the class with the district's highest projected class size.

5/5 UPDATE: School Committee President Maria Decker has provided some more insight into the projections. She says that the current numbers reflect existing placements, and that school choice students (students from outside of Beverly), as well as open-enrolled students (students from Beverly who choose to attend a school other than their home school) may be moved to produce more balanced class sizes across the district.

She also says the additional sections at Centerville were created in part to accommodate more students expected from the new housing development in Gloucester Crossing that will attend Centerville.