Archived Story

Buchanan teachers complain of overcrowded classrooms

Published 4:12pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

BUCHANAN — At least three fourth-grade teachers at Ottawa Elementary School in Buchanan say their classrooms are overcrowded with students.

Sue Borr, Stacey Grimm and Patricia Davis came before the Buchanan school board Monday night and asked for the creation of an additional fourth grade class to alleviate perceived overcrowding.

Reading from a prepared statement, Borr told the board the fourth grade has 125 students — the largest number of students in the district when accounting for grades kindergarten through 7. There are currently four fourth-grade classes, meaning there is an average of roughly 31 students in each class.

“In this situation we feel students are the ones being short changed, and we feel educational decisions should be based on what’s best for the students,” Borr said.

Supt. Andrea van der Laan said the district would ideally like to have 25 fourth-grade students per class, although having 27 to 28 per class is more realistic due to financial concerns.

Van der Laan said the district was surprised by how many fourth-grade students enrolled this year. They were projecting to have 27 students per class, not 31.

Because of the increase, the district hired a full-time interventionist to provide extra support for the fourth grade.

The teachers at Monday’s meeting said they don’t believe an interventionist will completely solve the problem.

“Our fear is that student achievement will fall off because we just can’t get to the students,” Borr said.

Tom Gordon, board member, thanked the teachers for expressing their concerns and said the board would continue to monitor the issue.

Van der Laan echoed Gordon’s comments and said there is a possibility the district would add a fifth fourth-grade class.

“It could be. We’ll keep an eye on the data,” she said.

The school board would need to approve the hiring of additional staff.

Buchanan had five fourth-grade classes last year with an average of 22 students per class, or 109 total students. Van der Laan said the fifth class was cut based on enrollment projections.

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