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Friday, August 22, 2014
Schools
Camp Avenue parents want smaller class sizes
Parents of incoming second graders petition district
Brian Racow/Herald
Tiffany Joosten, whose son will begin second grade at Camp Avenue School this fall, spoke out against what she and other parents see as high class sizes in this grade.

Many parents of Camp Avenue School’s incoming second-grade students are of one mind about the size of their children’s classes: they are far too big.

There will be three class sections in the second-grade at Camp Avenue next school year, as there were for the same students in the school year that just concluded and in the preceding school year, when these students began kindergarten. One of this fall’s second-grade classes will have 24 students, and the other two will have 25 students.

At the June 25 meeting of the North Merrick Board of Education — which oversees Fayette and Old Mill Road Schools in addition to Camp Avenue — Tiffany Joosten, the mother of a boy in the incoming second-grade class at Camp Avenue, hand-delivered to the board a petition requesting that the district add a fourth class section to the grade and thereby split the grade’s 74 children into two classes of 19 students and two classes of 18 students. Joosten said that 65 of these children’s parents had signed the petition.

She and a handful of other parents of children in her son’s grade spoke at the June 25 board meeting, raising concerns that their children are not getting enough individual attention in the classroom, that teachers are overwhelmed, that class size has long-term developmental impacts on children, and that their children are receiving different treatment than children in other grades in the North Merrick School District that have much lower student-to-teacher ratios.

“It just seems very unfair that some children get to enjoy 15 [students-per-class] for seven years … and my child is stuck with 25,” Joosten said.

North Merrick Superintendent David Feller said in a later interview that the average class size district-wide is 21. He said there are other grades in the district that have 24 students per class, and that at the lowest end of the spectrum, one grade at Fayette has 16 students per class.

“It’s hard for us to have identical numbers in class sizes when we have three different schools,” Feller said. “It’s just a function of the population and enrollment in that particular school.”

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