DeKalb County class sizes shrink

Classroom 1According to a two-year independent study by DeKalb County School District (DCSD) board member Stan Jester, class sizes throughout the district are waning.

Jester released two blog posts on May 1 and 2 that serve as updates to an original post made in September 2015.

The original post contained an analysis outlining the average class size of each DCSD elementary school and compared those averages to the legal maximum as well as the maximum allowed by a strategic waiver.

DCSD was awarded Strategic-Waiver status in 2015. Under such a status, DCSD is allowed flexibility under certain state laws that include class size.

Under DCSD’s specific waiver, the district allows 24 students per kindergarten class, 27 students per first, second and third grade class, and 34 students per fourth and fifth grade class.

Classroom 2
“I have been a tireless advocate for pushing money into the classroom and class sizes on average across the county have been drifting down,” Jester states.

According to Jester’s 2015 post, Rock Chapel, Rainbow, Narvie Harris, Pleasantdale, Wynbrooke, Flat Rock, Dunwoody, Pine Ridge, Woodward and Oakcliff elementary schools were at the waiver limit or over it.

According to Jester’s update on May 1, averages have dwindled so none violate DCSD’s waiver. The school with the largest class size average—Indian Creek Elementary—is scheduled for a rebuild and one of the first projects on DCSD’s tax-funded capital project list.

Jester’s May 2 blog post discusses middle school class sizes. No waiver exists for DCSD middle schools and, currently, no middle schools violate state law allowing 34 students per class in sixth, seventh and eighth grade.

The schools coming the closest to violating state law include Mary McLeod Bethune (30 student class average for sixth grade) and Chamblee (31 student class average for eighth grade) middle schools.

“Middle school class sizes have gone down and are generally below the state max,” Jester concludes. “A number of things go into class size.

Different types of students can affect class size. The ability of a principal to maximize funding makes a huge difference… If your class size isn’t what you want it to be, ask your school council, board member and principal why.”

The public responded to Jester’s blog with opinions on the subject.

“Class size matters! The difference between having a class of 18 fifth graders (Briar Vista) and 30 fifth graders (Indian Creek) is huge,” one commentor said.

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