Do we want increased class sizes, or the elimination of art and music programs due to new large scale housing developments?
We are told that any master housing plan being considered does not need a discussion on school capacity; any discussion on this issue is considered a “red Herring” by a member of the Planning Board.
The facts are as follows:
School capacities have changed over the last three decades due to decisions from the committee such as the first, half-day kindergarten, then a pupil/teacher ratio target change from 25 to 20, and lastly the choice of full day kindergarten and pre-school, as well as committed spaces for music and art.
Spaces have been assigned also for sped programs. The three elementary schools were built without any of these programs included, and the middle school with its recent addition and renovation was sized up to 1,000 pupils. The middle school also took advantage of the state’s change in utilization factor of classrooms from five per day to but four.
Capacities are based on numbers of rooms typically:
- Burrell: 20 rooms 16 CR (+2 SPOKE + art and music) = 320
- Taylor: 20 rooms 17 CR (+Art + music + SPED) = 340
- Igo: 27 (full size) rooms 21 x 20 = 420, 2 prek = 30, 1 art, 2 Spoke, 1 music; also 2 smaller SPED rooms = 450
Total: 1,110 pupils
Ahern, grade 5-8, designed and approved by the state for a 1,000 pupil rating.
High school originally designed for 1,350 pupils. The change from 25 to 20 pupil loads change this to a capacity of between 1,068 and 1,080 pupils. This facility has differing loadings such as art, music, gym, shop, science and collaboratives that affect this capacity list.
Enrollments as of this past year were listed by Paul Jackson as:
- Prek-4 1026
- 5-8 929
- 9-12 851
The elementary schools are divided into districts and therefore have differing class size numbers:
Prek Hdk Fdk 1 2 3 4 # rooms Cl Size
Burrell 76 0 43 61 57 60 47 16 15-22
Taylor 0 13 33 51 59 57 72 15 16-25
Igo 0 20 64 69 81 72 85 20 17-22
We recognize that the School Committee and the town can increase capacity. These include returning to a CR ratio of 25 rather than the 20. This would increase the total elementary from 1,110 to 1,380 pupils and the middle school to 1,250. Another option, Elementary art and music rooms can be returned as classrooms, adding some 120 pupils to the capacity. A third move would eliminate the 10 spoke and other Collaborative programs from the schools, another 200-250 pupil add, system wide.
The middle school has other options. We can capture the four open study areas in the corridor as classrooms, and add either 80 or 100 pupils. Another option is to alter the classroom utilization from the 1,000 pupil design of but 57 percent back to the 1960-1990 utilization factor of 71 percent. This means each classroom would be programmed for five periods a day rather than the current four. This would add some 250 pupils to the capacity.
Question is: Do we want to increase class size, eliminate art and music, and send the collaboratives out of town?
This is the decision to be made!