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School board to consider five plans to cut early elementary class sizes

Two new scenarios up for consideration

The Pleasanton School Board will look at two new scenarios for cutting class sizes for kindergarten through third grade at its meeting tonight.

At its last meeting, board members asked to see how much it would cost the district to accelerate class size reductions in the coming years.

One scenario, proposed by board member Chris Grant, would reduce class sizes for kindergarten through third grade to 25 students right away, and keep classes at that ratio until 2021, when state requirements would lower class sizes to 24 students. That proposal would cost the district a total of $15.9 million by 2021.

Another proposal would keep class sizes to 25 students in first grade and lower second-grade class sizes to 25 students while gradually reducing class sizes in kindergarten and third grade, and dropping all class sizes to 24 by the 2019 school year. That would cost the district a total of $16 million by 2021.

There are three other scenarios also up for consideration. One would keep class sizes at at 25 students in first and second grand and 30 students in kindergarten and third grade next year, then cut third grade class sizes to 25 students in 2016, with kindergarten class sizes cut to 25 in 2017, and all class sizes cut to 24 in 2018 at a cost of $16.1 million.

Another would keep class sizes at 25 for first grade, then gradually cut class sizes equally among the other grades, with all class sizes at 24 by 2019 at a total cost of more than $15.3 million.

The remaining scenario would keep first grade class sizes at 25 for first grade next year, then cut second and third grade classes to 25 students in 2015, make all classes 25 students by 2016, and cut all class sizes to 24 in 2017 at a total cost of nearly $18 million.

The board will also consider permanently bringing back some of the jobs and programs it brought back this year on a one-time basis. Deputy Superintendent Luz Cazares has recommended restoring about $2.9 million -- $1.8 million in staff and programs on an ongoing basis and another $1.1 million in one-time restorations for the next school year.

Those include $640,000 for instructional coaches in literacy, math and technology, allocate put $550,000 toward maintenance and $408,000 to bring back counselors at elementary, middle and high schools.

The school board meets in open session tonight at 7 p.m. in the district board room, 4665 Bernal Ave.

Comments

Posted by Frank Lynn, a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Feb 25, 2014 at 9:13 am

To me it just seems like common sense to prioritize class size reductions from the bottom up. Kindergarten is where most children develop foundational skills for reading - this is where they'd benefit the most from more individual attention.

I think the reality is that the district has a difficult time planning for the demand (and therefore knowing how many teachers to hire/classrooms to prepare) in advance as it's pretty common for families to move into Pleasanton the summer before Kindergarten starts. So first grade gets reduced but Kindergarten doesn't. Just because it's tradition doesn't mean it produces the best outcomes for kids.

That being said, from personal experience, Donlon is doing the best it can with limited resources - staggering the Kindergarten start times so that there is time when the teacher only has 15 students - and also using volunteer reading coaches and parent volunteers in the classrooms.


Posted by Have we forgotten, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 25, 2014 at 9:39 am

How about telling us how much it would cost to get back to where we expect to be, as a supposedly strong, well-funded school district?

that is, K-3 at 20! kids per class

This was, after all, what most of us who moved here for the schools were expecting. If the state funding cuts are so draconian, at least show us the numbers, not these half-measures.


Posted by Great!, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 25, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Really great news!! So glad to see 25 students in 1-3. Thanks to all who have worked so hard to make this a priority! CSR is not where it should be yet but it's a big step in the right direction.


Posted by P-Town Neighbor, a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 26, 2014 at 9:17 am

Let's go to charter schools and end schools controlled by teacher unions. My son has a teacher that shows up late for class two or three times a week (says her daughter is hard to get up and ready for school)and this same teacher REFUSES to use the school website to posts info like grades, homework, or progress reports.

I am a business owner - if I had an employee like this (won't adapt to the new system and can't make it to work on time) - well, this person would get three warnings they would be gone. But with teacher unions - the employee cannot be scolded or warned - she makes full pay, enjoys fabulous benefits and gets 6 weeks of vacation every year?

Note we all have stories like this - so it is time to break this union, and go with schools and teachers that are about the kids and not what the union can force on the taxpayers.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2014 at 10:48 am

Hi "P-Town Neighbor",

This post was about reducing class sizes, not about teacher's unions. If you want to start a charter school, more power to you, but for now, let's get our classes back to a reasonable size.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Feb 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

well...if somebody has a teacher who shows up late to work 2-3 x's weekly what about you showing up to your business 2-3 x's weekly? Wouln't that even up the score in your head?

make it even steven...i rest my case...


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