How Many Is Enough?

Maybe 12 isn’t a magic number anymore.

Twelve is the number of students that serves as a guide when the Warren County School District faces a decision regarding whether to offer a particular course.

“When class size is less than 12, that’s the number that we’ve held” for when a scheduled course will not be offered, Gary Weber, district director of curriculum, instruction and technology, said at school board committee meetings on Monday night. “As we reviewed the courses to begin looking at staffing, (we’ve) always used 12 as the marker for all the classes” excluding specialized courses like Advanced Placement and special education.

Board Vice President Donna Zariczny clarified that the policy revision would “determine whether classes are viable or not viable. “

“That’s a fair statement,” Weber said.

“What would a magic number be if not 12?” Warren County Education Association President Claudia Solinko asked. “What would be possible?”

“One of the things we talked about as we went into the scheduling process last year, when we got into the elective courses (we were) going to offer a set number of electives every other year,” Weber said. “Some schools did not schedule because the course was not to be offered. Some went and scheduled.”

The process “became disruptive in that sense,” he said.

Weber then explained that limiting what electives may be offered in a given year may be “unfair based on the population we have within the schools. (It) pigeonholes some schools into not offering classes they could offer.”

He said that when a course has 12 students, “you would find that often those numbers drop significantly” through the course of the year. “I think it also causes us to look at what pertains to that number and what does not. Where do we want to weigh that in courses that are very specialized?”

Larger schools, with more students and staff, have the option to offer more electives. “We don’t have to eliminate courses just because we say so,” Weber added. “Let the kids dictate what courses to offer, not us.”

Solinko explained that there are 40 students in the freshman class at Sheffield. “It would be my assumption that if we went to 17 or 18 as the number, we will only be able to offer two electives in each curricular area…forcing students to take electives.”

“The number is only ever part of the equation,” Amy Stewart, district director of administrative support services, said. “The policy has a list of exceptions. What is available what period is critical. (We want to) make sure we have options for kids when they need them.”

Weber said that he will bring a revised policy for consideration at February’s committee meeting.