The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board this week received an administration proposal to nudge class sizes slightly higher next year as a strategy for keeping the district’s budget in balance.
The recommendation presented to the board at its regular meeting Monday night would increase average classes at the elementary level by one and the middle school level by two.
The move would result in savings of about $540,000, or nine full-time-equivalent teachers, the administration contends.
It would represent a compromise between increasing all average class sizes by two, which would save $1,020,000 and 17 teachers, or by one, which would save $420,000 and seven teachers.
Current guidelines call for average class sizes of 23 for kindergarten, 25 for grades 1 and 2; 26 for grade 3; 27 for grades 4 and 5; and 24 for grades 6 through 8.
The so-called “hybrid” option would change the guidelines to 24 for kindergarten, 26 for grades 1 and 2; 27 for grade 3; 28 for grades 4 and 5; and 26 for grades 6 through 8.
An internal staff memo that was shared with the board noted that the hybrid option decreases the difference between the class sizes for intermediate and middle school grade levels.
“By increasing the elementary class sizes by one,” the memo states, “the average class sizes remain the same for some grade levels with the largest increase (.6) being at kindergarten.”
There are exceptions for the two magnet schools—King Lab and Bessie Rhodes—although an effort would be made to have the magnet school class sizes mirror the district averages, according to the memo.
“The exception to the class size guideline is Bessie Rhodes, where the guideline is no more than 22 students per classroom,” the memo says.
The recommendation is slated for discussion by the board’s Finance Committee before final consideration by the full board.