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updated: 9/26/2017 6:27 PM

Woodland District 50 to vote on lowering class size

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  • If the Woodland Elementary District 50 board of education adopts a plan Thursday to lower class sizes throughout the district, Woodland Middle School in Gurnee could see class sizes of 21 to 24 students, lower than the 25- to 27-student guideline currently in place.

      If the Woodland Elementary District 50 board of education adopts a plan Thursday to lower class sizes throughout the district, Woodland Middle School in Gurnee could see class sizes of 21 to 24 students, lower than the 25- to 27-student guideline currently in place.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2012

 
 

The Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 board could adopt a plan Thursday to lower class sizes districtwide next year in the interest of improving student performance.

But one school board member who wasn't present when the board came up with the plan to hire more teachers said Tuesday that it was hastily assembled and too expensive for the district.

Terry Hall said she hopes the plan, listed as an action item on Thursday's board meeting agenda, is tabled so the board can discuss it further.

"This is just very, very hasty," Hall said. "We have a lot of financial issues in our district, and everything is in flux with the state."

The board's six other members discussed the plan during a special meeting on Aug. 5. Superintendent Joy Swoboda said the board discussed general class size parameters and setting an official board position sometime in the fall.

"We know that research supports lower class sizes for student academic achievement," Swoboda said.

Current district guidelines set kindergarten through third-grade classrooms at 25 or fewer students, and fourth- through eighth-grade classes have 25 to 27 students.

According to the minutes of the Aug. 5 meeting, the board's consensus was to lower class-size goals for kindergarten to 15 to 18 students, for first- through third-grade classrooms to 18 to 21 students, and for fourth- through eighth-grade classrooms to 21 to 24 students.

Swoboda said board's possible action Thursday would put the new guidelines in place but wouldn't lock in the amount of money the district would have to spend on teachers next year. Swoboda said the district has not yet finished calculating how many new teachers it would need and how much that would cost.

Hall intends to ask other board members to postpone a vote and instead agree to add the class size discussion to the district's strategic planning process, which is about to begin. "That would be the proper function of strategic planning committee," Hall said.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Woodland Educational Support Center, 1105 N. Hunt Club Road in Gurnee.

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