News Stories

Superintendent Conti Discusses Plans to Keep First Grade Classes Smaller

There may be some musical chairs of first grade teachers between Fox Hill and Pine Glen Elementary Schools this year.

Superintendent Eric Conti said at Tuesday night’s School Committee the department has been closely watching elementary enrollment in order to keep classes small for better student-teacher engagement, a priority of the committee. He said overall the elementary school classes average out to between 17-18 students each, an acceptable number.

The one grade that is proving more difficult is first. Conti said that at Fox Hill they have 84 students going into the grade and with the current four sections that comes out to 21 students per classroom. He said he knew that was too many for the liking of the committee.

“In many places that would be fine but this committee doesn’t agree with it,” he said.

Pine Glen, however, has fewer first grade students per classroom than the town average. He said he’s been talking with the two principals about the possibility of moving a Pine Glen teacher to Fox HIll for a year because doing so would mean the class sizes would be 18 students per class in both schools.

The difficulty of this plan, Conti said, is that they would need a fifth first grade classroom at Fox Hill and all the rooms are currently being used. The idea would be to displace a specialist or combine some offices.

“I know it’s not acceptable but we have to make some difficult choices,” he said. “We will continue to watch enrollment and make adjustments as we go.”

School Committee member Martha Simon said she wasn’t thrilled with the idea but agreed it was the right plan.

“I think the plan is the right way to go,” she said. “I’m not happy about displacing a specialist but I think the plan makes a lot of sense.”