DuBOIS — Concerns about class size at C.G. Johnson Elementary School in Reynoldsville were voiced at Thursday’s DuBois Area School Board work session.
Deb Hoyt, of Reynoldsville, spoke on behalf of parents of the third grade that has two classes of 28 learners in each.
Hoyt said there are 56 students enrolled in third grade, 59 students enrolled in fourth grade, but there are three classrooms.
“We’re aware that learning support and Title I are going to push in maximum levels to help the kids and break down the ratio of adults to students, which we appreciate the effort,” Hoyt said. “We are also aware that that brings in two more adults into a classroom of 28, and at least one of our classrooms of 28 has six TSS workers in it at one time. That puts nine adults in a classroom with 28 kids. That’s an interesting fact, especially when you consider that DCC (DuBois Central Catholic) caps off their fourth grade at 25, and has a waiting list.”
Hoyt stated that she found some pictures depicting what the empty third grade classroom looks like.
“Chairs are stacked, nobody’s in them, it’s a little tight,” Hoyt said.
Another picture showed the same classroom with the students inside.
“Gets a little more crowded, a little more busy,” she said.
A third picture showed that without the chairs in place, the actual distance between the desks is 31 inches, back to back.
The other third grade classroom, if sitting in the front row, with the students in the classroom, is “a little crowded,” Hoyt said. If sitting in the front row, Hoyt said it measured exactly 10 feet from the wall of the smart board.
“When you have a child, theoretically, sitting at that desk in the second third grade classroom their chairs are 21 inches apart, barely enough room to walk through,” Hoyt said. “In contrast, this is what a fourth grade classroom looks like. This is one of the pictures that the chairs are up on a desk, ready for the night custodians to come and clean up. So I went ahead and included the other two, totaling three, fourth grade classrooms. Three fourth grade classrooms for three additional students, compared to our third.”
Hoyt said most significantly, however, is the last picture, the empty one, is full of boxes.
“So at C.G. Johnson we have the space to create a third third grade, which would put us at 18, 18, and 19. Our most recent enrollment at third grade requires the use of a full-time aid, so we’ve just added another adult,” Hoyt said.
“Our kids are coming home and talking to us about how they can’t concentrate when the kid next to them can’t sit still. They’re telling us how they lost 10 minutes of recess and only had 20 that day because they just can’t keep the noise levels down. I can’t understand how third graders, when there’s 28 in one small room, can keep their noise level down.”
Hoyt explained when the district was talking about consolidation, there was discussion about the value of breaking down the classrooms and having multiple grades at every level. There would be high, low and medium. She said the third grade is lumped into low and high.
“We have some parents that are concerned. They appreciate the help of TSS and learning support, but does that mean my child who doesn’t quite hit the high level gets slowed down because they’re in a group working with the lower level TSS?” Hoyt said. “(It) depends on how the groups happen to be broken up that day. We have some of our third graders coming home telling us they’re bored at school already. They don’t feel like they’re getting anything out of it because so much time is spent shuttling and organizing groups. Our two third grade teachers only have each other to collaborate. Those two third grade teachers have had each other to collaborate for many years, and they’re a good team. But they’re still only two.”
Beyond the classrooms, the children sit by their classroom at each table in the cafeteria. Only in third grade are there four students to a table, sitting elbow to elbow trying to eat their lunch. By the time those 28 students get through their lunch time, they do have a little less time to eat their food.
“We as parents are asking that our elected board members come down, not when the kids have left, not before they get there, but while they’re there,” Hoyt said. “Especially when they’re transitioning to their math groups, their ELA groups, come take a look at our cafeteria.”
No comments were made by the board or administration following Hoyt’s statements.