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Shorewood updating class sizes, Open Enrollment goals

Student numbers reduced for earliest grades

Nov. 28, 2012

Shorewood - Class size guidelines will be modified in the Shorewood School District, in an effort to better project staffing needs and the number of available Open Enrollment seats.

The School Board on Tuesday considered the proposed modifications developed by the district's administrative team.

Superintendent Martin Lexmond said the recommendations are nearly identical to existing guidelines, which were approved in September 2005.

"We're not increasing class sizes. In fact, we're actually recommending a little bit of a reduction at the earliest grades," Lexmond said. "But by establishing a goal, that gives us the opportunity to have a very clear number to use when we project Open Enrollment seats."

The guidelines set a "goal" number of students per section in each grade level from junior kindergarten through grade 12, as well as an acceptable class size range, which may allow for the goal to be exceeded slightly.

For example, the recommended goal class size for grades four through six is 25 students, with a possible range of one to 27 students.

Class sizes and staffing are set when the preliminary budget for the following school year is set by the board, typically in May or June. Unless actual enrollment exceeds projections by 10 percent or more, staffing would not be increased after that time, Lexmond said.

"I'm very happy with looking at this in conjunction with Open Enrollment," Board member Colin Plese said. "I think there's been a little bit of disconnect in the past."

With regard to Open Enrollment, the district would use its goal class sizes and student enrollment projections to determine how many Open Enrollment seats likely would be available at each grade level.

It may be necessary for the district to include language in any policy change that would limit the percent of students that would come along at once to a specific grade, Lexmond said, especially in transition years, such as between sixth and seventh grade or eighth and ninth grade, where the district is more likely to see a substantial increase in new students.

The district also is recommending modifying its Open Enrollment policy to end the practice of automatically bringing tuition waiver students into Open Enrollment, Lexmond said.

"The reason for that is it makes it very difficult to maintain commitments to certain kinds of class sizes," Lexmond explained.

Current families on tuition waiver, however, would be allowed to continue on as Open Enrollment students, he added.

The proposed changes will be further discussed by the board's Policy Committee before any action is taken. Once a decision has been made, those policy changes would be clearly communicated to district families, Lexmond noted.

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