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Class sizes set to stay the same in School District U46

Updated: March 6, 2013 6:11AM

ELGIN — Class sizes likely will remain the same next school year in School District U46 — high — raising concerns about bullying from at least one school board member in especially large classes, like middle and high school physical education.

Those classes average 40 students, and they have for “a long time,” according to Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Melanie Meidel.

That number used to be higher, Meidel said. Then it was lower. And there have been pushes to bring that number down, she said.

Meidel’s comments came in response to questions from board member Jennifer Shroder, who said, “It seems like if there’s bullying, that’s where a lot of it –“

Meidel agreed, “Yes, in the locker room.”

Class sizes have edged up to its current levels in U46 as the state of Illinois has reduced or fallen behind in its payments since 2009, the district has said.

Meidel proposed staffing standards “aligned very much” with this year’s for elementary, middle and high school positions during the 2013-14 school year Monday night at the U46 Board of Education regular meeting.

Those standards provide one teacher for every 27 students in kindergarten through third grade at every school, and one teacher for every 33 in grades four and up, according to Meidel.

That’s the same as last year. And that’s higher than those standards had been at their lowest: 25 and 28, the district has said.

Those standards also put a full-time para-educator in a classroom of more than 32 students in kindergarten through third grade, and in a classroom of more than 35 in grades four to six, according to the presentation. Part-Time para-educators also would be assigned for three hours a day to classrooms in kindergarten to grade two of more than 30 students, the presentation said.

Staffing numbers at high schools are driven by course requests and needs for required and elective courses, according to Meidel. Generally, that puts one teacher in the school for every 33 students in both middle and high school.

Many schools have requested and received para-educators in those large PE classes in the locker rooms, she said. That’s to make sure bullying does not occur.

Those staffing standards apply only to general education students, not students in special education, English as a Second Language or AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) programs or in multi-grade classrooms, according to the presentations.

Staffing will begin this month, determining any needs for hiring or reductions based on enrollment projections, according to Meidel. The school board is set to vote on those staffing standards at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at the U46 Educational Services Center, 355 E. Chicago St.

The board also approved the same student fees for the coming school year, as proposed, Monday.

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