FAQ for 24:1 Staffing Plan for KinderBridge through Grade 6
Rincon Valley Union School District
FAQ for 24:1 Staffing Plan for KinderBridge through Grade 6
March 16, 2018
What exactly is 24:1 staffing for all grades, KinderBridge – grade 6?
State law sets the maximum class size for primary grades at 24:1 in order to qualify for Class Size Reduction (CSR) funding. This concept calls for enrolling students in our primary classes to a maximum of 24 students and then maintaining that enrollment through 6th grade.
Why is this plan being put into place?
Over the past many years, the Rincon Valley Union Teacher’s Association (RVUTA) has brought to the negotiation table the inequities of large class sizes in the intermediate grades. Each year, agreements are made to mitigate the impacts of large classes, though without arriving at a solution to the root cause of our large intermediate class size. 24:1 brings equity to class sizes across the district and between grade levels and achieves a significant goal set by RVUTA.
What is the difference in class sizes between primary and intermediate grades?
School Services of California recently conducted a study of class sizes among all Sonoma County school districts that have multiple elementary schools. There are 18 districts in the county included in the study. For the 2016-17 school year, Rincon Valley has the largest difference in the average class size between primary (KB – 3rd) and intermediate grades (4th – 6th). The average size of our primary classes is 18.82 students and our intermediate class average is 28.98 students. There are 24 intermediate classes in our district with 30 or more students; five of which have 33 or more students.
Why do so many of our intermediate grade classes have such large class sizes?
Our current practice has been to enroll about 20 students in the primary grades and assumes three classes per grade. The idea is that these approximately 60 students will roll up into the intermediate grades at two classes per grade level and keep enrollment at 30 or fewer students. Our practice has not been successful because students do not come in neat packages of 20 per grade or per school. Our enrollment patterns result in some schools having only two primary classes at some grade levels and others with three primary classes. The result is that we are under-enrolling students in many primary classes and ending up with far too many students in the intermediate grades.
What option is there to reducing intermediate class size other than 24:1?
If we want to obtain equity in class size among the various grades and throughout the district, our only other option is to create combination classes. Combination classes allow schools to create equitable class sizes in the intermediate grades as schools would be able to simply divide their students across the various teachers regardless of grade level. However, the District and our Governing Board are
committed to single grade configurations because combination classes are simply a poor model for instruction.
What will be the impact on the primary grades?
As noted, the average class size for primary grades is about 19 students. Enrollment is these grades will increase to an average of about 22 students. Due to CSR rules, we cannot reach an average of 24 students since this would prohibit us from enrolling additional students. We need to maintain space in every grade level and at every school for incoming students. While our average is currently about 19 students, there are 15 primary classes in our district with at least 22 students right now.
What will be done to mitigate the impact of slightly larger primary classes?
The District is negotiating with RVUTA the impacts of 24:1. Since negotiations are in process, the details are confidential. It can be shared that both parties are committed to ensuring high quality instruction continues in our primary grades and that teachers are supported through this transition.
How will 24:1 be implemented?
The 24:1 model is being implemented one grade each year. The only grade impacted for the 2018-19 school year is Kindergarten. 24:1 staffing will roll up one grade each year meaning it will take seven years to be fully implemented. Will teachers lose their jobs? No teacher will lose their job due to 24:1. If this model were fully in place this year, we would have a net decrease of four teachers over our current level of staffing. However, since 24:1 will be implemented over a seven-year period, the loss of positions will be handled through attrition (retirements and leaves of absence).
Why will some schools have two classes per grade level and others have three classes per grade level?
Our current enrollment is 3,070 KB – 6th grade students. These are too many students to fit into an across the district, two class per grade model and far too few to fill all schools with three classes per grade. Therefore, only some schools will need to accommodate three classes per grade level in order to serve all of our students. The schools selected for having three classes per grade level are based on current enrollment patterns and are Madrone, Sequoia, and Spring Creek-Matanzas.
How will enrollment be managed to fit into the two and three classes per grade level model?
Our challenge will be to manage interdistrict enrollment so our two classes per grade level schools have space to accommodate all neighborhood and intradistrict students. Our current practice is to grant interdistrict students resident status upon enrollment at a given school. This means that these students may not be removed due to overcrowding. Beginning next year with the incoming Kindergarten class, interdistrict families will be given notice that if enrollment at their school expands leaving no space for neighborhood students, then we may return these students to their home district or offer them another district school. While we do not intend to have to exercise this option, it does give the district a means to manage our enrollment.
Do the three schools have the facilities to accommodate additional intermediate grade classes?
The best answer is probably. Madrone and Spring Creek-Matanzas certainly do, though some classrooms at each school are currently being used by other district programs. These programs may need to be relocated to accommodate the needed three additional intermediate classrooms at each site. Sequoia currently does not have classrooms to accommodate the extra needed classrooms. However, the District’s Facility Committee is reviewing options to ensure classrooms will be available at the school when needed. The good news is that we have several years to resolve our facility needs.
Will intermediate classes be limited to 24 students?
CSR rules do not apply to grades higher than 3rd. The number of students in our 3rd grade classes will roll up to 4th grade. However, circumstances may arise that dictate a need to enroll above 24 students in intermediate grades. Therefore, it is possible that an intermediate grade class will exceed 24:1, but if so, only slightly. The 24:1 plan is being put into place so intermediate classes have a reasonable number of
students. Any action to increase much higher than 24:1 would sabotage our intent.
What is the fiscal impact of 24:1?
Once again, the goal of 24:1 is to bring equity to class sizes in Rincon Valley. However, we do need to ensure the model is affordable, and thus sustainable. Our current staffing is far from fiscally efficient due to the relatively low enrollment in the primary grades when compared to the CSR ratio of 24:1. Our decision to prohibit combination classes further limits our fiscal efficiency. The result is that we are currently expending an additional $1.2 million than we would if we were perfectly efficient with 24:1 in primary grades and combination grades across the grade levels. If the 24:1 model were in place today, we would be staffed with four fewer teachers at a savings of about $300,000. We have built several fiscal models to test the 24:1 staffing plan and in each one, there are savings.