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Monday, May 30, 2016
Hewitt parents turned down
RVC school board decides to add only a second-grade class

Parents of kindergartners at the Jennie E. Hewitt Elementary School were angry and disappointed after a school board meeting last week at which the Board of Education announced that it would not be adding another kindergarten class.

Nearly 100 Hewitt parents came to an earlier meeting, on Aug. 7, to voice their opposition to the district’s new policy, which allows parents of children who are in classes of 24 or more to transfer them to another school with fewer students. The parents instead wanted another kindergarten class added at Hewitt, which would reduce class sizes and bring the school more in line with the rest of the district, they said.

But the board announced at a brief meeting on Aug. 28 that it would maintain three kindergarten classes at Hewitt, two with 23 students and one with 24.

Last week’s meeting was held at South Side High School during the district’s annual Building Tour. Because it took place at 1:30 p.m., only a dozen or so parents attended. And because it was technically a work session and not a public meeting, public comment was not allowed. “We do not have time to open the microphones,” said board President Liz Dion. “This is part of an all-day meeting that began at 8:30 this morning and will continue until about 3:30 or 4 this afternoon.”

A class was instead added to Hewitt’s second grade, replacing three 25-student classes with four — two with 19 students and two with 20. “The recommendation is, based on all the information we have, that we have 77 sections,” Superintendent Dr. William Johnson said. “And we remain at 77 sections for the opening of school.”

Some parents said they had no confidence in the board now, and asked when members would be up for re-election. “You played a numbers game with the quality of our children’s education hanging in the balance, and our kids lost. You won,” Katie Conlon told the trustees. “If you had left the kids in the zone for Hewitt at Hewitt, it would have split and we would have had 20 kids per class, right in line with the rest of the district. You played a game, and you won.”


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Mr. O'Shea is neglecting to mention the fact that EVERY other kindergarten class in the district averages 19 or less students. It is nothing special that Hewitt parents are seeking, rather to be in line with the rest of the district. The offer to allow transfers placed parents in the difficult position of overcrowding vs busing away. For those parents, I do not fault them, but for the district to act as if this were anything less than a desperate move is wrong. The Board describes their policy as their excuse. This policy should be a guideline, and in the case of putting 23-25 kindergarten kids in 1 class- a red flag. The "working session" excuse is another example of the Board avoiding their responsibilities. They knew this was a hot topic and chose to avoid the scrutiny. This is a school district, not a private company.

Friday, September 6, 2013 | Report this

Why is this such an issue? I have four children currently in three different levels of education (the oldest is 22). She had a kindergarten class of 30. The first grade class was 35. I looked back at my kindergarten class photo from 1972 and we had 33 students (some may have been absent - and it was only morning kindergarten). I graduated from the University of Chicago, and all of my oldest child graduated from the University of Maryland. I believe the class size controversy is highly overrated.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | Report this

Tarleton20 - A lot has changed since 1972. I am happy that your family is doing so well. I am also happy for you in your college achievments-relevant? A simple question is , would you prefer your child to have 18 kids in their kindergarten class or 24/25? We are not talking about comparing different states or eras, we are talking about the same school district. Why should we have these significant differences? I think you are being insincere by saying class sizing is highly overrated. I am sure there are studies with pros/cons- but it seems fairly obvious that a teacher educating 33% more children will have a tougher time attending to those children.

Thursday, September 12, 2013 | Report this
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