There are typically two class sections per grade at Fayette and three per grade at Camp Avenue and Old Mill Road, according to Feller.
He said however that in past instances where the district’s demographics would have produced classes with more than 25 students, school officials have assigned children to a different one of the district’s three schools then they are zoned to attend.
“Our game plan now is that we have that grade level circled,” Feller said, referring to Camp Avenue’s incoming second-grade class, “and if we had any more kids trying to enroll in it, we would move them to a different school. We have that authority and have exercised it in the past.”
But the parents who signed Joosten’s petition and who spoke at the June 25 board meeting expressed the opinion that even 25 students per class was too high of a number. The petition cited academic studies demonstrating “that being in small classes in early grades leads to higher student achievement on average.”
Dana Condela, another parent of an incoming second grader at Camp Avenue, discussed how she and other parents volunteered in their children’s class because the task of supervising and educating 24 students was too onerous for one teacher to handle with no support staff.
“The teacher was completely by herself,” Condela said. “Being the class mom, I was willing to help out. I have two other little children that I would get a babysitter for and go help her do projects, and she would say — not to her fault at all — if you can’t do it, no problem, we won’t do this. So all these special things that she had planned would not have been done if it wasn’t for the support of all the parents in the class … we were happy to do it but at the same time it shouldn’t fall on parents.”
Feller told Condela that the district would reconsider its assignment of classroom aides to lend greater staffing support to Camp Avenue’s incoming second grade class.
“I think everyone up here would love to have every class have 16 kids in it,” said Board President Neil Brown. “Unfortunately, we don’t have room for that, and also unfortunately we’re living now in a time of financial constraints.”