SPCS discusses ideal size for student body

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Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 12:00 am

Springfield Platteview Community Schools is weighing how many students to allow to opt into the district for the coming year to keep class sizes at an optimal level.

Superintendent Brett Richards presented the Board of Education with a preliminary document on building capacities at its Jan. 13 meeting to guide discussion on the ideal maximum number of children per classroom for the district.

The report presents two sets of numbers: the ideal maximum number of students for each grade level in the district and the current number of students enrolled in that grade. The document is still in its draft stages, and input is needed from the Board and from district teachers.

District Superintendent Brett Richards said in an interview that the district will set the maximum numbers based on its values and self-concept.

“We value a smaller class size as a whole, and we’re allowed to determine, based on our values as a school district, how many kids we want in a classroom,” he said. “We want to keep our image and not lose that. If you have capacities higher than what we show there (in the document), we could lose who we are.”

According to the draft document Richards presented, none of the buildings in the district are currently at their maximum enrollment.

To keep classes at their ideal size, Westmont and Springfield Elementary Schools could hold no more than 318 students. Westmont currently has 251 children enrolled, while Springfield has 254. Platteview Central Junior High has 161 students but could hold as many as 216. Platteview High has 331 students enrolled but could house 432.

Richards said growing up to or beyond the maximum numbers of students would have pros and cons.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “We want the growth, because eventually we would get revenue for that from the Learning Community. At the same time, a large amount of growth would mean we’d need to increase staffing. One of our concerns is, with our current funding the way it is, we can’t afford to increase staffing at high levels.”

The district is currently considering open enrollment applications, and Richards said Springfield Platteview can handle growth at all grade levels.

“The one thing we’re a little concerned about is the incoming freshman class,” he said. “Last year, we brought in over 20 freshmen. That’s going to be difficult for us to do with the big eighth-grade class this year. We may have to cap enrollment for that grade, but we should be in good shape for the others.”

This year’s eighth-grade class has 89 students, and an additional 20 students would push that to one over the district’s stated maximum of 108 freshmen students for Platteview. At the beginning of the year last year, 60 new students opted into the district, and 45 students opted out to other districts.

Richards said the district would love to grow up to certain point but has to be careful not to bring in more students than staff can handle. He added that the district wants to stay true to itself and the ways with which it has the most success.

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