Declining Enrollment Means Smaller Classes and, In Some Cases, Fewer Sections Per Grade In Bernards Township Schools

Oak Street School would have a larger grade 5, up to 23 students from this year’s 20, while Grade 4 should only require four sections, because of a decrease in numbers to 83 from this year’s 110. Credits: File Photo

BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Declining Bernards Township school enrollment affects how staff is used. Superintendent Nick Markarian described the current and projected class sizes and sections at the school board meeting Monday, March 12.

Final staffing recommendations will be included in the next school year’s budget, which is expected to be initially presented at the March 26 Board of Education meeting. Staff numbers and assignments are one of the last pieces of the budget-making process, he said.

 Class sizes for Ridge High and William Annin Middle School can’t be computed until fall schedules are finished, said Markarian.

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But, it’s in the lower grades where class size is seen as more crucial to learning, and “we’re into the third or fourth year in which elementary school enrollment is starting to go down,” said Markarian.

The guideline is for classes up to 2nd grade to be no more than 22, and for grades 3 to 5 to be no more than 25, Markarian said.

At Cedar Hill School, class sizes in grades 2, 4 and 5 are expected to be smaller next year. Grades 2 and 4 are at 22 per class this year, but should decrease to 20 or 21 in grade 2 and 19 or 20 in grade 4.

There could be one more 4th grade section, but one less 5th grade section, due to a projected decease of 5th graders to 94 from 125 in this year.

Grade 5, which is at 20 to 21 this year, could go down to 18 or 19.

School enrollment is likely to decrease to 520 from this year’s 546.

At Liberty Corner School, there could be one more 2nd grade section, and one less 1st. All class sizes should be smaller except for 4th grade, which could grow to 23 or 24, the same size as this year’s 3rd grade. Still, that would bring 4th grade to four more students than the current year.

This year’s number of 19 to 20 students in 4th grade translates to the same number in grade 5 next year, about three fewer per class than this year.

Total school enrollment is expected to go to 500 from this year’s 516.

Mount Prospect School is projected to see almost a 10 percent decrease in total enrollment. All grades show a decrease. The year should see smaller class in grades 2 to 5. Grade 1 might be a bit larger (20 or 21, versus this year’s 18 or 19) because the number of sections is projected to reduce to three from four.

The most severe change at Oak Street School would be a larger grade 5, up to 23 from this year’s 20. That’s because of a larger number of rising 4th graders. Grade 4 should only require four sections, because of a decrease in grade numbers to 83 from this year’s 110.

Grade 2, which sees numbers go down to 66 from this year’s 81, should have three sections instead of this year’s four.

At William Annin Middle School, average class sizes in the core subjects of social studies, English and language arts are 22, and 23 in science. In 7th grade, average class size is 23 in science and social studies, 21 in English and 22 in language arts. Class sizes are a bit higher in 8th grade, at 24 for social studies, science and language arts and 23 for English.

In math the class size numbers are 23 for 6th and 7th grade math, and 21 for 7th grade algebra I. The class size is 21 in both 8th grade algebra I and geometry.

At Ridge High there are 19 math courses, outside of three seminar courses, class sizes range from 22 to 26 except for honors geometry (14), algebra I (19), intermediate algebra and trigonometry (15) and computer science principles (17).

Basic English classes range from 21 in grade 12, 22 in grades 10 and 11, and 24 in grade 9. In science, class  the largest class size is 26 in CP Physics. There are six advanced placement classes and three honors courses in the 20-subject curriculum. All are in the 20-23 class size range except for one physics course at 17.

World languages at 21, business at 17, fine arts and music at 18 and technology education at 16.

Current programs have appropriate staffing levels, the report said.


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