Class size does matter to Elmhurst school parents

Board receives earful from parents concerned about possible increases at elementary schools

(District 205 video)

ELMHURST — “My personal opinion is class size does matter.”

Lisa Shurba, who has a child enrolled at Lincoln Elementary School, offered this comment at Elmhurst Community Unit 205’s most recent School Board meeting.

She was one of a half-dozen residents who took to the microphone and continued sharing concerns of possible increased class sizes in the 2017-18 school year at a trio of District 205’s schools.

The core of the parents’ concerns stem from the possibility of larger classes at Hawthorne, Jackson and Lincoln elementary schools.

Echoing concerns aired in early May, Shurba and other parents have noted their children are in classrooms of 22 or fewer students this year as second-graders. If current enrollment projections take hold and additional sections are not opened, the incoming third-graders could be in classes of 27 or more students next year.

Shurba, a healthcare professional, shared evidence-based research with the board that she said gives credence to the potential adverse impacts larger class sizes can have on student performance.

Former District 205 School Board member Maria Karamitsos offered similar concerns at the board’s meeting, held May 23.

“Our facilities are inadequate to support larger class sizes,” Karamitsos said. “I know we can find a compromise together. Let’s think creatively.”

In addition to speaking to student performance, several parents said they were concerned how larger class sizes would impact teachers.

“I am very concerned we are setting our teachers and students up for failure,” said Kristin Morrow, a district parent and educator. “Please base your educated decisions on what is best for our children.”

In a brief response to the concerns, School Board President Shannon Ebner pointed out District 205’s class sizes are lower than the state average. Across Elmhurst’s schools, Ebner said second-grade classes average 21.3 students, while third-grade classes are at 22.4 students.

“We make every effort to have low class sizes,” Ebner said.

At their recent meeting, the District 205 School Board also:

• Approved an agreement, capped at $50,000, with Chicago-based architect firm Wight and Co. for a so-called feasibility analysis of District 205’s long-term facilities needs.

Superintendent David Moyer recommended entering into the contract. He described Wight and Co. as “the district’s architect of record.”

School Board member John McDonough agreed with the assessment, describing Wight and Co. as “a real good firm.” He also said the study was “a responsible action.”

• Approved a plan to add several late arrival days into the 2017-18 school year calendar at elementary and middle schools.

The board approved incorporating one additional late arrival day in October, February and April. The late arrival days are designed to accommodate a variety of staff development activities.

• Issued a contract to Christina Podraza, who will serve as assistant principal of Hawthorne and Lincoln elementary schools. Podraza’s contract begins Aug. 7, and she will be given a base salary of $91,573.

• Accepted 26 grants totaling $53,827 from the District 205 Foundation. The grant dollars will go toward a variety of classroom initiatives, including curriculum tailored around the growing Makerspace movement and funds to assist in growing science, technology, engineering and math classes.

“This is one of the largest distributions to date,” School Board member Karen Stuefen said. “This could not happen if our teachers didn’t take extra time in applying for these grants.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Correction: I served on the school board for a local private school — not District 205.

    Thanks for helping to get the word out. This is a critical issue for our students and teachers. Larger class sizes are a lose-lose for all. Everyone must get involved in this initiative.

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