Class size issue is about equality
To the Editor:
Thank you for your article on the Aug. 7 Board of Education meeting, which focused on elementary school class sizes here in Rockville Centre (“Transfer from Hewitt? No Thanks,” Aug. 15-21). As one of a group of parents who have been meeting with Dr. William Johnson since July 25, I’d like to clarify the points that most parents were voicing on Aug. 7.
The central issue is one of equitable and fair treatment. That’s a stated goal of our Board of Education. But it’s a goal that is in danger.
The kindergarten class size situation is inequitable. Kindergarten students at Hewitt face average class sizes of 24.7, while students in the other four elementary schools are at 18.6. Parents are concerned with the class cap of 25, but even if that cap isn’t pierced, having 33 percent more students in Hewitt classrooms isn’t fair treatment.
Adding a kindergarten class at Hewitt would bring class size to 18.5 (in line with other schools) and would be budget-neutral. The additional teacher would cost $80,000. Adding three teaching assistants (the board’s suggestion) costs $90,000 ($30,000 for each class).
At the meeting and in writing, we urged the board to take this action.
The second grade class size issue is of district-wide concern. Classes at Watson, Wilson and Hewitt are at or above the cap. With the Common Core testing starting in third grade, this year is crucial for our second-graders. We are justifiably worried that our students will not be as prepared as they should be.
We propose adding a second grade class to relieve this pressure. Hewitt has an available classroom and a central location. Using the board’s own remedy of letting parents choose different schools, an extra class at Hewitt would pull sizes in second grade down to an acceptable level.
This is an important issue. Because our high property values are due in part to our reputation for excellent education, this situation impacts everyone, not only parents. The board says that all options are open. We appreciate this and hope they will continue to work with us to safeguard Rockville Centre’s tradition of excellent education for all.
When will Maple Ave. be done?
To the Editor:
Is it possible for residents in Rockville Centre to know why Maple Avenue continues to be under constant construction? Perhaps there is a good reason why the construction is being done piece-meal. The street has been under construction for a long time. Sections of Maple Avenue have been opened and closed like a back door. It would be nice to know when this WPA-like project is going to be over and we’ll all have a smooth, clean road to drive on.