Carson City school board discusses enrollment growth, class size reduction
Student enrollment in Carson City schools are thriving to a point where reducing class sizes continues to be necessary.
With a total of 7,700 students enlisted in local schools, the School Board approved the school year’s class size reduction plan on Tuesday.
While the increase of students is beneficial for the school district, the next step is to figure out how to adjust head count in classrooms.
Andrew Feuling, the district’s director of fiscal services, said the number of students has increased in the first two weeks of school: on day 1, the district had 7,509 students; on day 13, there were 7,702 students.
He said Carson Middle School and Carson High School has seen the most growth in enrollment so far, although Eagle Valley Middle School has a slight shortage; usually, there’s at least 655-690 students enrolled, but this year it’s 648.
Enrollment in elementary schools also decreased to 3,449 students, but Feuling said this decrease is sufficient considering the lack of capacity in classrooms.
“We’re keeping students in and avoiding drop-outs,” Feuling said. “Each year it seems to be less and less.”
The 2017-18 school year may be the district’s largest enrollment since 2014-15, which concluded with 7,441 students.
According to Superintendent Richard Stokes, the district’s enrollment is reaching full capacity, especially succeeding the full day preschool launch in August. The idea of expanding elementary schools is undergoing planning, specifically for preschool students.
As listed in NRS 388.720, the school board approved of the proposed plan to reduce the size of kindergarten, first, second, and third grade classes to meet a pupil-teacher ratio of no more than 22 students.
The plan also includes reducing fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes to no more than 25 students.
“We’re challenged in regards of space,” said Associate Superintendent Educational Services Sue Keema. “The class sizes in this plan are reasonable and supportive.”
In order to meet class size obligation throughout the year, three more kindergarten teachers and a second grade teacher are needed at Fremont Elementary; a third grade teacher for Bordewich Bray; and two, fifth grade teachers for Mark Twain and Fremont Elementary schools.
“Should we not need a third kindergarten teacher, we could assign them to teach another grade,” Keema said. “We need it.”
When it comes to full day preschool, classes can’t exceed 25 students in a class. If a class is over one student, Keema said, the district isn’t in a position to hire another teacher and there will be no appeal to increase the class size.
By spring, class sizes will be analyzed to determine if reducing head count in grades 1-5 is the most cost effective and academically viable way to meet compliance ratios.