After months of private deliberation and public discussion, the Rockville Centre Board of Education officially enacted a policy regarding class balancing across the district’s schools.
The policy is an amended version of one that had previously been on the books, which aimed to prevent certain classes in the district from getting too large while others had less children.
The main difference between the amended and the original policy lies in parental notification. The original policy enabled district administrators to offer new parents to the district the option to enroll their child in a school with classes of fewer than 19 students if their child was zoned to enroll in a class of 25 or more.
The new policy states that all new parents are to receive a document stating that they have the option, under those conditions, to apply for a zoning exemption. It puts the onus on parents, rather than administrators, officials said, to know their options and make use of them if they choose.
The amended policy also expands the list of factors that administrators can consider when reviewing zoning exemption applications, and addresses concerns some parents raised at previous public meetings about how to address students whose older siblings used a zoning exemption.
The original policy came under fire at the end of the 2016 school year, when it was ultimately put on hold after parents of Riverside Elementary School complained that its use resulted in more populated classrooms. Two students zoned to attend Riverside were offered the opportunity to attend Watson instead, and did, which meant that Riverside’s kindergarten class did not meet the threshold for a split, which would have halved the class size.
Critics of the policy at the time, particularly Riverside parents, blamed the district for “poaching” incoming students.
In the summer of 2017, prior to the start of this school year, Wilson faced a similar issue. The kindergarten would have had three classes of 25 each, but a new student enrolled at the last minute, which triggered a split. The kindergarten class size was reduced from 25 to 19, but the art room had to be moved into an outdoor portable structure in order to make room for the new class.
One of the factors that the new policy allows administrators to consider is the overall dispersal of resources, including issues like classroom space.