FLORHAM PARK, NJ- Florham Park parents came out to the recent Florham Park Board of Education meeting to voice their concerns for the uptick in the student to teacher ratios for next year’s first and third grade classes.
The current second grade class has over 90 students. A considered drop in classes from five to four would see the students to teacher ratio jump over 20 in each class. No less than seven residents stood to make their opinions known to the board, claiming that this number was unacceptable.
“There are many second grade going into third grade parents who are upset about the class size shrinking from five classes to four classes,” Alfie Zirpoli brought up to the board. “The second grade currently has 93 students which is 18.6 per class. Next year it will raise to 23.25 children in each class. Third grade is a testing and PARCC year, the classrooms are small with carpets and reading space taking up a lot of room and there isn’t air conditioning in the classrooms.”
Many of the parents echoed these sentiments, including some that were upset of a similar situation with the kindergarten to first grade students. It is also being considered that the number of classes for the incoming first grade class will be dropped from five classes to four in the next school year. This is not new as the number of classes and teachers for each grade can fluctuate based on the number of students coming into each grade.
“While we may have class rosters that have a certain number, we do have information that some students may not be returning the following year,” Superintendent Melissa Varley responded. “While it looks like it is going to be a large class, we will be staying within our policy of 24 children per class in third grade and 22 children for K-2. I can promise you that I am committed to small class sizes and while we are within the policy we will meet those numbers and do what is best for the children.”
The class sizes and numbers are a bit of a jigsaw puzzle for school administrators who look out for the wellbeing of all students across every grade level. There is barely a day goes by that the numbers are not being crunched by the principals and superintendent of the district.
“I reach out to the principals and they reach out to me,” Varley went on to say. “At any time we are constantly in contact about class numbers. We want to hire as quickly as possible if we go over that (the policy) number so we are in constant communication.”
It will be interesting to see what the classes will look like come the first day of school in September.