Elmhurst District 205 parents want class sizes addressed
Parents of second-graders at three elementary schools in Elmhurst Unit District 205 are voicing concerns about class sizes their children will face next fall when they enter third grade.
Dozens of parents attended Tuesday night's school board meeting to urge the district to add another section of third grade at Lincoln, Jackson and Hawthorne elementary schools.
The parents said their children were in classrooms with no more than 22 students during first and second grade. But unless the district takes action, the parents say, next year their kids will be in classrooms with at least 27 students.
The change would be detrimental to learning, the parents say.
"We are not asking for small class sizes, but rather, reasonable class sizes," Jackson parent Andrea Gambill said. "Our vivacious and spirited children will have a great deal of difficulty focusing, learning and achieving their best individual success with 28 students in the class."
"We just want to work with the district to ensure the success of each and every one of our students," she said.
Lincoln parent Kristin Morrow said she was "appalled" to learn third-grade class sizes will start at 27 students per class.
"It doesn't take a master's degree or any form of a background in education to know that smaller classes increase differentiation of curriculum and offer much more individualized instruction to our students," Morrow said.
Another Lincoln parent, Kristi Phipps, said the 100-year-old school has classrooms that are too small for 27 students.
"The HVAC systems can't even handle the 21 students that are currently in my child's classroom, let alone six more warm little bodies," she said.
School board members didn't immediately respond, but district officials released a written statement Wednesday.
In it, officials said they "make every attempt" to keep class sizes low. But due to the discrepancy in the size of schools, they said, "there are occasional challenges that emerge."
In addition, they said, the district "attempts to balance the competing needs of many stakeholders when making resource allocation decisions."
District 205's target class size for kindergarten through second grade is 25 students. It rises to 27 students for third, fourth and fifth grades.
Officials said the targets were established six years ago "as a monitoring tool and guideline, not a hard cap."
Nevertheless, the statement says, "We will continue to monitor student enrollment at all schools across the district throughout the summer."
In the meantime, District 205 has spent "$1 million and counting" to hire instructional coaches "to support all teachers with lesson planning, technology, special education and English Language Learners."
Hawthorne parent Shawna Roubitchek said those resources don't change the fact the number of students in each third grade class will be "too many."
"One million dollars and counting to support our teachers," Roubitchek said. "What about some of that for simply more teachers?"
Size: Parent argues 100-year-old school's classrooms aren't big enough for 27 students