Talk-Up APS just posted an official notice that the Board of Education will hold a special meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. to reconsider the previous and unsuccessful vote to pass a +5 class size waiver (see here). The notice as posted is shown below.
A called meeting for the purpose of discussing a possible rescission of the class size waivers item (voted on at the December 1st meeting: Report No. 14/15-0116 – Resolution Requesting a Waiver of Class Size Maximums from the Georgia State Board of Education) and also to consider additional action related to the class size waivers will be held at 5:30 pm on Thursday, December 11, 2014, at the Center for Learning and Leadership, 130 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30303.
*Action will be taken **The Board may enter into an executive session before, during, or after this meeting to discuss at appropriate items.
I understand that there has been a lot of scrambling by Board members and the administration on this issue. My hope is that the original waiver will be passed to allow for a certain level of flexibility – with one proviso. The resolution should also contain “guidance” that the initial administration budget proposal should be based on a +3 class size for grades 1-3. This would represent a demonstrable and incremental step towards placing a greater focus on early education which was a consistent campaign issue last year.
In addition, the administration has indicated that the principals need the flexibility that a +5 waiver gives them. What they have not said is that, if the budget is prepared at a +3 level of resources, the principals will have an even greater amount of flexibility to use the additional resources in a manner that best advances educational outcomes in the elementary school.
To make this more clear, lets walk through an example, as follows:
- An elementary school has 51 students in 1st grade. If a +5 waiver is passed, then there will be funding for two teachers for 1st grade classes – one class with 26 students (maximum level) and one with 25 students.
- If a +3 waiver is passed, then the principal has no choice but to establish three classes with 17 students each.
- By passing a +5 waiver with funding guidance at +3, the same principal would receive funding for three teachers for the 1st grade level. The principal could then choose to set up the three classes with 17 students each or alternatively use the additional teacher as a supplement to the two larger classes (or any number of other combinations).
- This represents far more flexibility for the principal and allows the principal to make the appropriate decision based on their knowledge of the student body and the capabilities of the teachers at the school.
In my view – a +5 waiver with +3 funding guidance – is a reasonable accommodation that begins to address last years campaign promises, provides class size relief where it is needed and provides the principal with additional flexibility in structuring the school to reach the best educational outcomes