"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.
This story contains 644 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.