Fargo School District discusses reducing class sizesAs schools across the border are forced to increase class sizes due to budget cuts, remarkably the Fargo School District is discussing decreasing its class sizes.
By: Kelly Smith, INFORUM
As schools across the border are forced to increase class sizes due to budget cuts, remarkably the Fargo School District is discussing decreasing its class sizes.
The district and school board looked at research on class sizes Tuesday that showed students – especially at-risk students – do better academically in smaller class sizes over the long term.
“This is some of the most interesting news I’ve pored over in a long time,” board member John Strand said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Right now, the average class size for kindergarten through fifth grade is about 20 students, said Bob Grosz, the assistant superintendent of instruction.
The ideal ratio of students to teacher: 17-to-1.
That smaller class size helps increase student achievement and decrease discipline issues. The disadvantage, Grosz said Tuesday, is the cost.
To reduce the district’s kindergarten through third-grade classes to that 17-to-1 ratio would require hiring 50 additional teachers.
The translation to taxpayers: $3.2 million. That doesn’t include costs for additional space, material or other physical needs.
And that’s something most board members said Tuesday they aren’t ready to commit to now, but rather asked district administrators to continue discussing.
“Where we have large at-risk populations, it may make sense for us to invest,” board member Jim Johnson said. “But I don’t know if you need to implement it districtwide.”
Seven of the district’s 12 elementary schools do not have even one kindergarten through third-grade class with 17 or fewer students this year.
So is the ratio attainable?
“I certainly support keeping our class sizes as low as possible because we know the direct connection it has to student performance,” Grosz said. “(But) I think we can achieve some of those same gains by utilizing staff that we already have.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515