School funding cuts lead to big classes

Dave Smith has 21 sixth-graders in the class he teaches at Bloomington’s Arlington Heights Elementary School – not a bad number. But add the 16 fifth-graders who are also in Smith’s class, and you’re looking at a lot of kids for one teacher.

Smith’s 37-student class is not exactly an outlier. More than a dozen Monroe County Community School Corp. elementary teachers have 33 or more students in their classrooms. Class sizes in the district ballooned when the school board eliminated teaching positions as part of $5.8 million in spending cuts.

MCCSC officials warn that more teacher reductions, and possibly even bigger classes, are likely if voters don’t approve the school-funding referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The school board voted in February to set staffing levels at 22 students per teacher for kindergarten, 24 for grade 1, 25 for grades 2-3, and 30 for grades 4-6. But those numbers are just averages. Principals group students and assign teachers the best they can, but some classes inevitably will be bigger than average.

According to figures compiled by the superintendent’s office, here’ some of what you’ll find this year in Bloomington elementary schools:

— Arlington Heights, split classes (grades 5-6) with 37, 35 and 32 students
— Clear Creek, multi-age classes (grades 4-6) with 35, 33 and 32 students and a sixth-grade class with 35 Continue reading