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Parents push school board for class size cuts

3 options considered to reduce K-3 sizes

About 30 parents turned out at the Pleasanton school board on Tuesday night to push once again for smaller class sizes.

Three scenarios to reduce the size of classes were up for discussion at the meeting, and although no vote was scheduled, board members all said they were committed to "aggressively" pursue smaller classes.

"These are not recommendations, they are just ideas," Deputy Superintendent Luz Cazares told the board.

The main issue is funding. The state's target is to bring all students through third grade to 24-1 pupil-teacher ratios by 2020-21 school year. All three plans would do that well in advance of the state deadline, but with significant differences in cost.

Parents pushed for scenario three, a plan that would cut class sizes quickest and at the most cost.

"The difference I've seen between the 25 to 1 class and the 30 to 1 class is amazing," said Andrea Stokoe, a parent and board member of Pleasanton Partnerships In Education. "When there's 30 to 1 in a class, every child falls through the cracks."

Kelly Hilton, who is both a parent and a fifth-grade teacher at Walnut Grove Elementary School, said delaying an immediate move toward smaller classes wouldn't be just.

"We're not being equitable to our kids without smaller class sizes," Hilton said, adding she'd like the district to consider reducing class sizes for students in fourth and fifth grade.

"Give our students the same thing that other kids across the nation have," Hilton told the board.

Scenario three would keep class sizes at 25-1 for first graders and include second graders in the 2014-15 school year, then cut class sizes to 25-1 for third graders the next year. Kindergarten and transitional kindergarten would be added the next year, in 2016-17. Class sizes would be cut to 24-1 for all students in kindergarten through third grade the following year. That plan would cost the district $5.5 million to bring class sizes to 25-1 and nearly $8.2 million when classes are reduced to 24-1. By the 2020-21 state deadline, it would cost the district nearly $17.7 million.

Scenario two is the least expensive. It would keep first graders at 25-1, then gradually reduce class sizes to 25-1 for all other classes by 2017-18, with class sizes reduced equally for all other grades during the shift. It would cost nearly $5.2 million to reduce class sizes to 25-1 and almost $10.1 million to cut classes sizes to 24-1 the next year. By the 2020-21 school year, it would cost the district nearly $15.4 million.

The first plan would work gradually. It would keep class sizes at 25-1 for first graders and include second graders in the 2014-15 school year, then cut class sizes to 25-1 for third graders the next year. Kindergarten and transitional kindergarten would be added the next year, in 2016-17 and class sizes would be cut to 24-1 for all students in K-3 the following year. That plan would cost the district $5.5 million to bring class sizes to 25-1 and nearly $8.2 million when classes are reduced to 24-1. By the 2020-21 state deadline, it would cost a total of $16.1 million.

All three scenarios would also eliminate staggered reading over time -- in the 2018-19 school year under the first alternative, in the 2019-20 school year in the second and in the 2017-18 school year in the third.

There's uncertainty about continued state funding for class size reductions, which could pose problems if the district starts cutting class sizes next school year.

"We don't know what our budget is going to be for next year yet," Cazares said. A preliminary budget is released by the governor in January, and the final revision is made in May.

"We don't really know what we'll be receiving," she said.

Class sizes for first graders were reduced to 25-1 for the current year, thanks to a $213,000 donation by PPIE, with the school board approving $112,000 to make up the difference.

Comments

Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:20 am

Money for management raises, as always. No money for class size reduction, as always. When are we going to fire the management and hire some teachers?


Posted by Smiley Face, a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

These same parents should fork up the money to fund class size reduction. Most of them don't want to pay but are always asking for more services. There ain't no free lunch!


Posted by Me, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm

The Plan 3 sound just in time for the entering 1st Graders while existing 2-3 get the shaft. A school board member must have an entering 1st grader. The real agenda is to force a modified school year -- bye bye summer


Posted by Shari Nottingham, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm

The real problem is socialistic education which forces me to pay for other people's kids getting educated and then become public workers that will bilque me out of my money. And I don't like it! If you want to have kids, pay for them yourselfs. If people want there kids educated, let the private sector deal with it. Free enterprise. Where people can be free instead of enslaved to a dictator like the State.


Posted by Me , a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Wow, wow
Somebody bitter?
Wow


Posted by None of the Above, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm

"The real problem is socialistic education which forces me to pay for other people's kids getting educated and then become public workers that will bilque me out of my money. And I don't like it! If you want to have kids, pay for them yourselfs. If people want there kids educated, let the private sector deal with it. Free enterprise. Where people can be free instead of enslaved to a dictator like the State."

It's "socialist." And "bilk." And "yourselves." And want "their" kids educated.

Is spell check a "socialistic" program? I can understand why you're angry with the education in this country. You obviously didn't get anything out of it.


Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

To None of the Above,
Spell check only finds a couple of the mistakes made by Shari. Spell check is no substitute for actually learning the English language. However, very little reading, writing and arithmetic is taught in our schools any longer, and with Common Core coming, even less will be taught. Don't worry though - the students feel good.


Posted by W. White, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

@Smiley Face: Most of the parents that are advocating this have paid for many years for CSR via PPIE. It isn't a small amount either. ~$300 per kid, plus volunteering, plus fun run, plus local PTA. Parents are incredibly vested in education in PUSD. It is a shame that people whom don't have kids currently in the system don't see the value in public education.


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