Education

Large Class Sizes Concern New Providence Parents

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NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Several parents of elementary school-age children expressed their concerns regarding the growing student population at Thursday's Board of Education meeting.

Molly Stassfurth told the board that her first-grader at Roberts School may end up being in a class of 25 students. She asked if the board has considered expanding the schools to accommodate the growing student population.

Superintendent David Miceli said that the district has monitored the enrollment numbers throughout the summer. The administration will have a meeting to go over the final student count before the school year begins. The principals of each school will then send letters to parents with information regarding the upcoming school year.

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Miceli explained that the district does not have additional classrooms. However, the district has hired fully licensed teachers as reading specialists to assist K-2 teachers during language arts periods. According to Miceli the program has been successful.

Meg Gilbertson said that her child attended a kindergarten class with 16 students, but will be in a first grade class of 25 students. She said that she appreciates the reading specialists’ contribution to language arts but asked how the math will be handled in a large class setting. “There is no specific plan for math,” Miceli replied.

A couple of parents pointed out that the New Providence has a highly ranked school system and many families move to the town “for all the accolades,” but now find themselves worried about large class sizes.

Miceli said that the district is trying to accommodate the students’ needs.

Miceli also noted that all new families that have moved to New Providence recently have been advised about the possibility that their child may end up in a school other than their zoned neighborhood school  if their neighborhood school cannot accommodate them. Miceli said that there are “spikes” in enrollment periodically, and often times “when one school has a spike the other schools have space.”

Parents suggested that the board allow willing families who may live on the fringes of school zones to choose the school with smaller class sizes for their elementary-age children.

New Providence schools open on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

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