Increasing class sizes within K-8 schools were a topic of concern among residents and the Bloomingdale at the board’s Tuesday night meeting.
Several residents spoke Tuesday night, stating that large class sizes decrease academic performance and confidence, especially in elementary school students.
“You get higher achievement in lower class sizes. Once you hit 20 (students per class) and above, there’s a lack of competence, a lack of confidence and all of that ultimately affects NJASK scores," said resident Trisha DeGeronimo, who has a first and a fourth-grader in the district.
DeGeronimo also theorized that, for the extra aides that have been hired to assist students in larger classes, it would be just as fiscally effective to create additional classes at overcrowded grade levels while adding another teacher’s salary.
“What’s concerning, not just for our kids but kids that had IEPs in the classroom, is that aides are being (brought) in to help a full class. They’re being distracted and pulled away from kids that need that extra support,” DeGeronimo said. “If you look at the cost-benefit analysis of bringing in an additional teacher into an empty classroom, it offsets the costs of multiple aides needed for classrooms.”
Christine Spencer, a parent and substitute teacher within the district, also cited that smaller class sizes districtwide would increase the ability of teachers to respond to all students by giving them the necessary individualized attention, especially with the district implementing a newer, more complex curriculum than in years past.
“You’re going to tie your teachers’ hands if you don’t let them have their smaller classes because they’re not going to be able to give them individualized attention,” Spencer said. “It’s not the same curriculum we had when I was in school. You move to some highly individualized curriculum and the teachers need the chance to be able to implement it.”
Members of the board of education, though early in their investigation of this issue, tended to agree that class sizes were becoming too large as enrollment has risen districtwide.
“I can empathize with you, because my daughter’s graduating class was 82. That was an enormous class; they’re now juniors in high school. It was very difficult,” said Board of Education President Lauren Grecco. “It’s good that (members of the board) are hearing this for the first time, because they may not necessarily have realized the class sizes have ballooned.”
Interim Superintendent of Schools Terrance Brennan told the public on Tuesday night that he would do what he could to decrease rising class sizes after conducting thorough research.
“I support smaller class sizes and if there’s any way possible, that will happen, but I have to look at what my administrators have to say,” Brennan said. “To give you a good answer, I need to research that a little bit more.”