Parents used the public comment portion of the Sept. 30 meeting of the Voorhees Township Board of Education to ask about rules for class sizes across the district.
E.T. Hamilton parent Mira Aumiller, who has four children at the school, first raised the subject, pointing out her oldest child’s fourth-grade class had 28 students this year.
Aumiller said she was concerned, and she and other parents had been wondering if the district has a limit of how many kids there could be in a given class.
“We’re Voorhees, we’re a Blue Ribbon School, so a lot of the parents expressed concerns,” Aumiller said.
Assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Dr. Diane Young said each year the district attempts to balance class sizes across the district and have an equal number of students in every class, but sometimes there are pockets where there are higher numbers.
“We’ve had 25, 26 in our fourth- and fifth-grade classes over the years, but what happened was we had a decline in enrollment in our schools, so our class sizes for awhile have been really small, but with the way things have worked out, we had these pockets,” Young said.
Young said the highest class size the district ever had for a fifth-grade class was 30 students, but Young said a number that high wasn’t ideal and wasn’t something for which the district strives.
According to Young, there are four fifth-grade classes at E.T. Hamilton, and she said she was hopeful that would balance out the issue when the larger fourth-grade class advances next year.
Young also took some time to highlight other enrollment situations. She said the district had to add a kindergarten teacher at Osage Elementary School, as 105 kindergarten students enrolled there over the summer, and the district added a part-time teacher to handle an increased number of kindergarteners at Kresson Elementary School.
Kresson also saw an influx of first-grade registrations, which Young said led to the addition of another teacher, and an influx of third-grade students at Signal Hill Elementary led to the addition of a teacher there as well.
“Our mission is to try to keep class size from grade three to kindergarten on the lower end compared to four and five, so that was the decision that we would put the staff in kindergarten, first and third, and unfortunately there’s a little bit of a higher number in fourth grade,” Young said.
Signal Hill parent Jennifer Edwards asked if the district had an “ideal” number for the class sizes for younger students, but Young said something like that was difficult to pinpoint.
“You could have 10 kids in your class and you might have some challenges and that 10 feels like 20, and you might have 25 in a class and the group is pretty independent, so we try to look at those sorts of things as well, like what supports do the kids need when we’re putting them in the classroom,” Young said.