From full-day kindergarten to a full-time nurse, elementary school principals have set a list of standards that the district’s elementary schools should follow.
Those standards could come in handy as the district slogs through talks on which elementary schools should close or consolidation in the next couple of years. It will also help in deciding what programs to keep during budget cuts and which ones to fund if money were to become available.
A savings of $500,000 is associated with closing down a single school, said Kim Bodensteiner, the district’s chief academic officer.
“If we close schools, how do those dollars get reinvested? We want to be clear how we are using those dollars,” Bodensteiner said.
The standards were fine-tuned Wednesday during a meeting with elementary school principals and later reviewed by members of the district’s Equity Council. On Monday, the list will be presented to the school board.
At the top of the list was reducing class size, which principals said should be a priority. No magic number exists for class size, Bodensteiner said. Studies have shown that the quality of the teacher matters most and small class size is important for at-risk students.
That being said, research has indicated optimal class size to be in the range of 13 through 18 for lower grades and in the low 20s for the upper grades. The board has set a goal to reach those benchmarks.
“But we have never even been close to them,” Bodensteiner said.
Right now when class size reaches the upper 20s in the lower grades and more than 30 in the upper grades, Bodensteiner said, the district will start to look at adding teachers or splitting classes.
Along with class size, the accepted standards include:
• Each school should have a full-time principal.
• Full-day kindergarten should be kept in schools that have them now and should be expanded to schools based on established criteria.
• Each school should have a comprehensive special education program.
• Increased programming should be available for reading and math interventionists. These programs require staff work directly with students who either need advance or remedial help in reading or math.
• Each school have a full-time nurse.
• Learning coaches are key to school improvement and should be provided.
• Full guidance services should be provided.
• Each school should have a full-time library media services staff member.
• Each school should have the ability to facilitate family support services.