Burnside classes to shrinkRed Wing School Board members have taken the first step toward shrinking district class sizes.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing School Board members have taken the first step toward shrinking district class sizes.
It will begin at Burnside Elementary, where two new teachers will be added next school year. School Board members on Monday approved the addition, which will mean smaller class sizes for three grades next year, according to early estimates.
The biggest relief will come at the fourth-grade level, where average class sizes look to shrink from 30 to 25.
"It's a relief to finally attack that higher number," said Burnside Principal Sheila Beckner.
Monday's decision represented the district's first concrete step in its commitment to shrinking class sizes. Last year voters approved a referendum loaded with new cash officials said would go toward eliminating the district's financial deficit and bloated class sizes.
Board approval paves the way for two full-time equivalent positions. Finance Director Brad Johnson said the total cost will be about $160,000, which includes the cost of specialists, education assistants and additional furniture to accommodate the extra sections.
School Board member Stephen O'Keefe said there will be more class-size reductions in the future. The district limited the changes to Burnside for now, he said, until financial question marks — like state funding — can be solved.
"This is a first step," O'Keefe said. "These are changes we believe can be sustained."
Though the changes will mean more individual attention for some students, Burnside Elementary will remain a full building, Beckner said.
"It's going to be another tight year, but I think it's going to be worth it to be tight," she said.
School Board members on Monday also approved moving two sections of fifth-graders to Twin Bluff Middle School to accommodate the new teachers' classrooms. Burnside currently houses grades 2 through 5.
Beckner said a preference letter was sent home with this year's fourth-graders. The two sections are nearly full with voluntary requests to move, she said. The remaining students will come from families who did not respond to the letter.
Still, the number of voluntary participants is heartening, School Board member Dennis Porter said.
"It'll take the threat out of this move," he said.