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Cloudy,50°
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Transfer from Hewitt? No thanks.
Parents decry action by school board, ask for more classes
Alex Costello/Herald
Parent Denis Tarpey addressed the Board of Education, asking why Hewitt Elementary School couldn’t have another class added next year.

Nearly 100 parents attended the Board of Education meeting last week to protest the board’s decision to allow them to transfer their children to other schools, and to demand more and smaller classes for the Jennie E. Hewitt Elementary School’s kindergartners and second-graders.

Hewitt is the most populated school in the district, with 446 students, and kindergarten and second grade are the most crowded. In 2013-14 there will be three sections of each, with 25 children in all three second-grade classes, 25 in two of three classes of kindergartners and 24 in one kindergarten class as of now.

Parents filled Room 112 at South Side High School on Aug. 7 to voice their concerns about the crowding. Twenty got up to speak, and all asked the board to add more classes.

Late last month, anticipating crowded classrooms, the school board passed a measure allowing parents of students who would be in classes of 23 or more to transfer their children to another school with class sizes of 19 or fewer. The hope was that this would help even out the distribution of students in the district without redrawing schools’ boundary lines. The board sent a letter to parents of students who qualified to notify them.

Board President Liz Dion said that trustees did not know how many parents would sign up, but they did not expect the backlash at last week’s meeting. Parents said they did not want to move their children to different schools — they wanted to keep them at Hewitt and have smaller classes.

“We didn’t think anybody would get upset by this letter,” Dion said. “And there were people who were very happy about it.”

Though the Hewitt parents were clamoring for another teacher — there is a classroom in the school’s attic space that is currently unused — trustees said they would wait until they received the final enrollment numbers at their meeting on Aug. 28 before they made a decision.

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