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The teachers representative on the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board’s Finance Committee noted a discrepancy this week over class size guidelines in the district’s schools that could reduce the number of teachers required by the district.

Essentially, the guidelines promulgated by the administration were not in concert with the guidelines specified in the District 65 Educators’ Council’s (DEC) contract with the board, said Meg Krulee, the union’s representative on the committee.

For most grades in the elementary schools, the administration’s guidelines were one or two students higher than the contract with DEC specified.

For example, in grades 1 and 2, the adminstration’s standards are for a maximum of 25 students per class, compared with the DEC contract of 23; grade 3 calls for 26 per class, vs. 25 in the DEC contract, and grades 4 and 5, 27 students per class vs. 25 in the DEC contract.

The difference is significant, as Lora Taira, the administration’s chief information officer, whose department is responsible for determining teacher allocations, presented charts that suggested a cost savings of $900,000 for the year if the board were to increase the guidelines by two students per class, as some 15 fewer teachers would be required to handle projected enrollments.

Board member Katie Bailey, who as president of the board was involved in the contract negotiations, said that she was aware of the discrepancy, but said these were only guidelines, and “it was decided that we would keep these not the same.”

Taira said that the numbers used in her calculations were consistent with guidelines established by a committee several years ago.

Member Claudia Garrison, a former middle school teacher, said “it troubles me that we have class size guidelines and then a contract that’s different.”

Richard Rykhus, Finance Committee chair, said that the numbers are not “set in stone. They’re targets, goals, guidelines.”

Member Candance Chow warned the committee that an increase in class size could impact a number of people “who choose to move out of the district,” ostensibly because they would fear a reduction in the quality of education if the district’s classes were larger.

No decisions were made by the committee, as it is considering a number of budget management strategies, of which class size is but one.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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9 Comments

  1. Class Size

    If ANYTHING D65 should be trying to LOWER the current class sizes.  15 kids should be the max in a class.  In my, admitedly limited, experience as an educator reducing class size is as close to the silver bullet that everyone is looking as we can get.  Small class sizes ensure enough indivdual attention per student, give teachers more time to plan and execute more engaging leasons, GREATLY reduce discipline problems and thus would INCREASE LEARNING which of course leads to better standardized test scores.

    1. Do you pay property taxes?
      I am going to assume that you are correct that 15 students is the ideal class size and would provide all the benefits you lay claim to. What you failed to address is how much our property taxes would have to increase by to get these results. Could you please furnish us with that information? I’ll hold my breath while waiting for your answer.

      1. Yes I Do

        Yes I do pay property taxes.  I'd rather pay taxes for education and building our country and community than pay for assistance for those that can't get jobs or jail for those that choose that route do to a lack of education.  Perhaps taxes would go down overall if we could spent less incarerating people and have them be tax paying citizens.  Snippy much?

    2. Classroom size

      I'm a former teacher, and you are absolutely correct.   That's the bottom line, and I did put my child in a private school…..it was an awesome education!

      1. More on class sizes

        That's true that the QUALITY of the educators is important, but more education for them, does not make them better teachers.  Look at all the horrible doctors, lawyers, judges, etc, who have years and years of great educational opportunities.   There needs to be a way to weed out poor instructors…(sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn't).   Just because you have a degree in something, does not automatically make you a qualified person for that job….good teaching involves spirit, attitude, compassion, a sense of fairness, organization,  etc., etc., etc.    These are not taught in college.   A lot of teachers would be better at their jobs with smaller sized classrooms.  Overwhelming instructors with a large number of students is never a good thing.  

         

  2. Structural Financial Issue at D65

    The underlying challenge at D65 is an expected growing budget deficit. This budget deficit appears to be the reason for the discussion over class size. The Evanston RoundTable just published a comprehensive article showing how a $17,000 budget surplus in 2014/2015 is expected to turn into a $4,700,000 deficit the following year, and increasing to $11,000,000 by 2018/2019. Here's the article:

    http://www.evanstonroundtable.com/main.asp?SectionID=16&SubSectionID=27&ArticleID=8360

    People may want to directly reference the D65 Memo showing the Financial Projections and Assumptions from the February 10th Finance Meeting:

    https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=34897833

    As I mentioned in a prior post, there are financial challenges confronting many, if not all, government bodies at the City, County and State level in Illinois. Additional focus, attention, and prudence on fiscal issues would appear to be sound practice at this time. (P.S. that would suggest spending over $800,000 to upgrade a city parking lot doesn't make sense)

    P.S.S. I'm still looking for that mythological money tree

    TP

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