What to do with Aberdeen class sizes up for discussion this week

The discussion about what to do with class sizes within the Aberdeen School District continues this week.

On Tuesday, April 17, the School Board will review 2 options to bring their average class sizes to 17 by the 2019-2020 school year.

In February, the school board began public discussions about how to meet the requirements of Initiative 1351, approved by voters in 2014.

In this initiative, among additional school funding in response to the McCleary Decision, it required kindergarten through third grade classes to have no more than 15 to 17 students, while grades 4 through 12 are required to have no more than 22 to 25 students.

Aberdeen Superintendent Alicia Henderson said the average class size is currently 19 for grades K-3 in the Aberdeen School District.

In 2015, Governor Jay Inslee delayed implementation for four years.

Boardmembers began looking at four options that could bring changes before the voter approved changes are required.

  • Purchase portables for the elementary schools;
  • Move all 6th Grades to Miller Junior High School;
  • Band schools by grade level as neighboring districts have done, or
  • Keep the status quo – Do not implement in 2018-2019 and wait for more guidance from the state.

Due to staff and community feedback, the board has narrowed options down to adding portables at the elementary schools or moving 6th grades to Miller.

“Both options under consideration preserve the neighborhood school concept, which is highly desired in our community.”

Placing portables are estimated to cost $900,000.

Miller Junior High, constructed in 1979, was designed to house approximately 675 students, with between 435 – 635 students already served.

The estimated cost to move the 6th grade students is $450,000 – $675,000.

The school shows that of the 396 middle schools in the state, 271 of them incorporate 6-8 grades.

Dr. Henderson said in February that it was not yet clear at that time whether districts can meet the new standard with a districtwide average, or if every K-3 class must be less than 17 students.

The cost of adding classrooms and hiring more teachers must be weighed against the additional revenue the state may send, she explained.

“This is a big jigsaw puzzle for us,” Dr. Henderson said. “And the financial implications could be significant. We don’t have extra classrooms at all of our schools waiting to be filled.”

Dr. Henderson said, “I am confident that we can come up with a fiscally responsible solution that supports the great work taking place on behalf of students in the Aberdeen School District,” she said.

A PowerPoint with more information is available at the school website.

Options to Achieve K-3 Class Size Reduction (CSR) Requirement in 2019-2020

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