Education

New Providence Board of Education Moves to Balance Class Sizes at Salt Brook and Allen W. Roberts

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NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ --  New families moving into the borough this school year with children in either first or fifth graders will find their children directed to either Salt Brook School or the Allen W. Roberts School to address an imbalance in class size in those grades.

The board of education discussed the enrollment plan briefly at its meeting Thursday. Superintendent David  Miceli had outlined the plan in October.

Miceli said large first grade classes at Salt Brook School and fifth grade classes at the Allen W. Roberts School have forced the issue.

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At Salt Brook, the first grade classes have 24 and 25 students, while the first grade classes at Roberts School have 17 and 18 students, according to the enrollment report issued Thursday.

In the fifth grade, Roberts classes have 26 and 27 students, while Salt Brook classes have 20 and 21 students.

Miceli said that the rules would only be applied to new students in those grades moving into the school district. He said if a family has another student another elementary grade, that student, too, would attend the same school as their sibling to reduce the confusuon for the new  family.

"Moving into the district would mean the child has not had time to develop the relationships with the neighborhood and friends yet," Miceli said. The disruption would be less for that student, he said.

The arrangement would only continue through the end of the current school year, he said.

Board member William Dibble asked if the arrangement might require busing students across town to their school.

Miceli said most parents are driving their children to school, but if the family lives more than 2 miles from either school and the parents don't drive their children, then the district would be required to provide transportation.

Dibble said that it was clear that this swapping arrangment could only last for this year, but that the larger class sizes would migrate up the grades in subsequent years.

Miceli said that the class size issue will be taken up as part of the budget discussions for the 2012-13 school year.

An issue for the first grades, he said, is that  they expect 15 to 20 new first graders next year. These are children who are  attending kindergarten outside the district, but who will enter New Providence schools in grade one.

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