Board of Education to hold special meeting to reconsider the class size waiver

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

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4 Responses to Board of Education to hold special meeting to reconsider the class size waiver

  1. tom says:

    Two points:

    A +5 wavier along with budgeted class sizes of +5 provides absolutely no flexibility, or more accurately, it provides the same flexibility as a +3 waiver with budgeted class sizes of +3, or no class waiver at all and budgeted class sizes at state max. There is actually more flexibility if they go back to state maximum class, but budget to state max -1.

    The last time APS budgeted to +3 was in 2012-13 school year. Since then, revenues have increased by about $60 million. Not only does APS have $60 million MORE in revenue, but they also have less expenses because they are budgeting to +5. WHERE IS ALL THIS MONEY BEING SPENT ? ? ? ? ? ?

  2. Annie Bender says:

    Is there a reason that this can’t wait until the next Board meeting? Special called meetings are usually called only for emergencies. Conducting business at regularly held and previously scheduled and publicized meetings gives the public the opportunity to plan to attend and participate in the meetings.
    Noticing special called meetings a day ahead of the meeting time is no way to ensure full public notice and allow for participation/comments and emails. Transparency dictates that this item be “reconsidered” at the next regular meeting? Where is the urgency? It feels like the Board is trying to get away with one without anyone noticing right before the holidays. What a shame.

  3. Beverly Fraud says:

    Annie Bender is completely right-once again, something is rotten in Denmark, and they are trying to hide the stench in the midst of the holiday season.

    Sad and pathetic that Courtney “Credit Card” English and other former teachers put politics before teaching and learning conditions. Of course “former teacher” might be too strong; perhaps “do two years then get paid to be a lackey in the educational industrial complex” may be a FAR more accurate way to describe them, based on their actions.

    Certainly more accurate than “advocate for students.”

  4. Annie Bender says:

    So let’s at least describe the solution offered here in a different way. What is suggested here is that the budget be funded with a +3 class size waiver but that a +5 waiver be approved. That means that high school classes will be approved, budgeted and funded at the maximum class size allowed (a +3 waiver is the max, likely because the students are essentially adults). For the lower grades, this means that a budget is approved with class sizes 3 greater than state recommendations and flexibility is provided for up to 2 more kids per class.

    So let’s at least recognize that despite the fact that the APS system projects that they will have an additional $60 million to spend, this Board will not insist that $24 million be spent to bring class sizes down to the state recommended levels.

    Not only does this fly in the face of campaign promises made by several board members, it is being done in the most non-transparent way possible — by a special called meeting in the middle of the holiday season. I, for one, will not miss my daughter and her classmates’ concert to go fuss at a board that has no intention of listening and no desire to hold this discussion off until a regularly scheduled board meeting. I hope this board will at least have the intestinal fortitude to do a hand vote and record each individual member’s vote — because it seemed to me that at least one board member voted both ways when this was last considered.

    Every board member needs to own their votes here — either insist that class sizes be reduced with about a third of your extra revenue or acquiesce in the administration’s plans, but we will remember.

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