The Arlington Public Schools Board will consider increasing class sizes and the impact it would have on instruction, budget and capacity at a work session tonight.
A report prepared by the office of Meg Tucillo, assistant superintendent for instructional services, examines the effects of increasing Arlington’s recommended minimum class size by one student for the 2012-2013 school year. The school board will take up the report following its regular 7:30 meeting.
Such a move would not necessarily add one student to every classroom across the county; class sizes would still vary depending on distribution of enrollment and demand for electives.
An increase of one student per class would reduce the need for additional full-time teachers by 39 and assistants by four and result in a savings of $3.6 million for fiscal year 2013, the report concludes.
The increase would also ease overcrowding in elementary schools by adding a total of 467 seats, middle schools by 150 seats and high schools by 180 seats. It would also reduce the projected need for “relocatable” classrooms, or trailers, from 25 to about 9, according to the report.
Across Arlington elementary schools, a total of four classes have more students than the county policy currently recommends. The current recommended maximum for kindergarten and first grade is 24 students; 26 for second and third grade and 27 for fourth and fifth.
The average class size across all county elementary schools, however, is well below the recommended level, according to the report, ranging from 19 to 21 students per class at each grade.
At 25 students, a kindergarten class at Oakridge Elementary School in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood is larger than the maximum recommended. One first grade class, at 25 students, is over the maximum, at Arlington Traditional School, a countywide magnet elementary in the Bluemont neighborhood. Two third-grade classes at McKinley Elementary in the Madison Manor neighborhood are above the maximum recommended, at 27 students each.
Smaller classes allow teachers to interact with students more easily, but are costly and limit the district’s ability to offer other educational programs.
Arlington’s elementary student-to-staff ratios are larger than Alexandria’s, but smaller than Fairfax, Prince William and Montgomery counties.