Class size, the budget, and you!
In Edgemont, we strive to provide every student with a highly-individualized learning experience and support for all aspects of his/her development. Keeping class sizes to a developmentally-appropriate level is one way that we support this goal. Recently, questions have been raised by several parents who are concerned about class size in our elementary schools.
As the graph below shows, over the last fifteen years, the average class size in both elementary schools has remained remarkably stable, vacillating within a narrow window of 19-22 students:
These numbers compare favorably with other local districts. During the 2016-17 school year (the most recent year for which data about neighboring districts are available), Edgemont’s average elementary class size was 20.4. During that same year, our neighbors reported similar average class size figures: 22.3 (Ardsley), 20.3 (Chappaqua), 20.5 (Scarsdale), 21.4 (Byram Hills), 18.8 (Bronxville), and 20.4 (Hastings-on-Hudson).
Another way to look at this issue is to consider the student-teacher ratio. For the 2017-18 school year, that ratio was 16:1 for Greenville and 15.9:1 for Seely Place. Again, these numbers are in line with other schools in the region: 16.2 (Concord Road, Ardsley), 16.6 (Bronxville ES, Bronxville), 15.2 (Westorchard, Chappaqua), 16.3 (Heathcote School, Scarsdale). Unlike the average class size figures, in some ways student-teacher ratios better reflect the degree of personal attention our students receive when there are two or more teachers in the classroom, as is the case in integrated co-taught programs such as the one that is in place in Edgemont. This explains how a district that does not have a co-teaching program, like Bronxville, can have a low average class size but high student-teacher ratio.
In preparing the budget, we strive to predict and provision staffing for the coming year based on analysis of enrollment data and trends. Edgemont has seen a sharp increase in enrollment over the last few years and we have largely managed to keep pace by hiring additional teachers. During the 2012-2013 school year, enrollment in the district was 1911 students and there were approximately 178 teachers on staff; since then, our enrollment has risen by over 100 students and we have increased staffing to 189 teachers. In each elementary grade level, we monitor enrollment and create new sections, as needed, based on class size targets (K-2: 22, 3-6: 24, 7-12: 25 in academic subjects), educational best practices, and the needs of the students in the grade. In light of a projected increase in enrollment next year, we are planning to include three additional teaching positions in the 2019-2020 budget.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that Edgemont’s small size results in significant variation in class size from grade to grade. The size of each elementary section is heavily dependent on whether there are enough students in the cohort to warrant adding a fourth class. This is why Greenville’s fourth grade has three sections at 24, 24, and 25 students while the four kindergarten sections average only 18 children. Given the class sizes in the Greenville fourth grade, one of the teaching positions currently in the budget will most likely be used to add an additional section there for 2019-2020.
In Edgemont, we strive to ensure that students are supported and guided appropriately at all levels of their development. An important part of this goal is making sure that students receive personalized one-on-one and small-group instruction from their teachers and other adults in the building. In designing the budget and making decisions about staffing, we work hard to maintain class sizes that align with our goal of educating the whole child in a positive and supportive atmosphere. Class size is one of many factors that we consider as we continue to review and build our program to achieve this goal.