PWCS – Where Doing Nothing is World Class!

So… PWCS has $2.7 million of “extra” revenue to play with.  What should they do?

A few years ago the school division deliberately decided to run class sizes up the state’s legal maximum so that they’d have money available for other priorities.  We now have classes in some high schools and middle schools with 35, or more, students. Teachers are overworked and are struggling keep up.  Maybe doing something about that would  be wise.

Chairman Johns raised the issue tonight.  He got shot down.

That whole “any extra money we get will be allocated to reducing class sizes” promise that every school board member made and Superintendent agreed with when they deliberately chose to make class sizes this large, was a load of cow paddies.

 What was the reason for doing absolutely nothing about class sizes?

Because having kids change classes in the middle of the year would be disruptive and we need a plan.

I’ve been asking for a plan to reduce class sizes for more than a year now. So has Jim Livingston. So has just about very teacher who has had the courage to address the school board.  The BOCS asked for one several weeks ago.

No plan.

Not one school board member has demanded one.

Not one.

No plan.

You want a plan school board members – then stop whining and direct the school division to develop one.  At the pace things move around here, the plan might be done in time for the 2015 – 2016 school year.

Meanwhile we have $2.7 million that could be used to take some of the burden off of our teachers this year.  While mid-year changes in classes would be disruptive, we do have options that aren’t that drastic, if we’re willing to consider them.

One option is to hire aides for any class at any school in the county that are over a set limit – like any middle school or high school core class with over 30 students in it.  Another is to put a full time aide in every kindergarten and first grade classroom with over 22 students in it.  There are other options, but we have to be willing to consider them.

Doing nothing because we don’t have enough money to reduce class sizes by the 5 – 7 needed to make a real difference is a cop out.  It’s an excuse, and a pathetic one at that.  None of our school board members were elected to sit about and moan.  That’s not world class behavior.

Do something folks.



6 Responses to “PWCS – Where Doing Nothing is World Class!”

  1. Michele Boyd Says:

    We were THRILLED to learn through your blog a few weeks ago that the BOCS was considering a tax hike to lower class size if PWCS presented them evidence-based research along with a proposal on what was needed.

    So what you are saying happened at last night’s board meeting was nothing? No plan was discussed or even a progress report on the first steps of a plan? Sounds like the issue was met with hostility. Is this accurate? Do you know if the class size research was ever forwarded by PWCS to the BOCS?

    This is really disheartening. Frankly my husband and I are dumbfounded as to why the Board & PWCS are not all over this opportunity.

  2. pwceducationreform Says:

    I was really happy when I learned that the BOCS gads asked for a plan to reduce class sizes. It seemed like finally we would be getting somewhere. Since then nothing has happened. I, and others, have been asking for a plan for reducing class sizes for almost two years now. So far the only plan PWCS has is the $15 million to reduce class sizes by one pupil in every grade level in every school.

    PWCS hasn’t even admitted how large the problem really is! I’ve heard of elementary schools with K – 2 classes with 30 kids in them. I’ve heard of high school math classes with 35, or more, kids in them. I’ve heard of middle school classes with 38 or more kids in them.

    It would be nice to know how pervasive the problem is. How many K – 2 classes have more than 24 students, how many 3 – 5 classes have more than 27 students, and how many middle and high school classes have more than 30 students? Is it 50, 500, 5000? That alone will give us an idea of the scope of the problem.

    At times it seems like some of our elected officials and citizens think the problem is being blow out of proportion, particularly folks from districts with smaller schools and lots of title 1 elementary schools. Knowing the scope of the problem, not average class sizes at each school like we get now but the actual count of the number of individual classes that exceed some set targets, would help all of us understand what we’re dealing with.

    That information should be easy to obtain and shouldn’t take much time as the schools already know how many students are in each class.

    Then the school division can start figuring out what can be done in the short run to help the most overcrowded classrooms and what should be done in the long run to bring class sizes down.

    In the short run, we have $2.7 million available that really ought to be used to do something about class sizes. Chairman Johns asked if the money could be used to do that. I give him a lot of credit for asking that.

    The Superintendent responded that he didn’t think it would be wise to use the money to reduce class sizes because the school year has already started and kids have gotten uses to their classes and moving them to a new teacher or classroom could be really disruptive and undermine learning.

    That really makes me mad! We have to start somewhere. Reducing class sizes significantly will take a long time. We may have to raise taxes to accomplish it. How can the school division and school board even consider asking residents to pay more in taxes if they aren’t willing to use the money they have to reduce class sizes.

    Aides may not reduce class sizes, but they may help our teachers. If not aides, then maybe we use the $2.7 million to pay the tuition fees for kids to take classes online instead of in school. That’ll reduce the number of kids in schools. I’m sure there are other ideas, but we have to be open to considering them. Doing nothing because the money isn’t enough to anything significant is pathetic.

  3. Mandy Burnett Says:

    My daughter has 27 students in kindergarten class with an aide that comes in for only half a day. I am not sure how the teacher is supposed to teach in this environment or how she is supposed to learn. I am so frustrated with the PWCS that I am considering moving my family to Fairfax especially since I plan to go back to work as a teacher next year and am scared to try working in the current environment of PWCS.

  4. Ken Reynolds Says:

    That is a sad commentary Mandy…and seems to reflect the depth of managerail issues in the PWC School System. And to further the problem, the BOCS is simply ‘in the way.’ The School System needs its own funding mechanism, and until we get this, PWC Schools are shortchanged………..

  5. mrJ Says:

    Simple. Just commit to dropping the avg class size by one student every yr for the next 5. That’s 15 mil a yr for 5 yrs.

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