Due to the resignation of Dr. Garza, we await the Interim Superintendent direction and agenda with regard to class size matters.
Dr. Garza is taking several steps to address class size concerns:
On July 28, 2015, FCPS published Regulation 1302, which establishes new elementary class size standards and FCPS responses, including – if all else fails – the allocation of an additional aide or teacher position from the countywide staffing reserve to an elementary school with one or more large classes.FCPS Regulation 1302 applies to classes and instructional groupings for language arts, math, science and social studies. It was adopted after Dr. Garza proposed and the School Board agreed to add $3.1 million in recurring funds and $0.8 million in one-time money to the FCPS staffing reserve for the 2015-2016 school year. Under FCPS Regulation 1302, FCPS staffing reserve positions – perhaps including those not funded by the $3.9 million – will be allocated to schools whose principals comply with section III A of the regulation, which requires them to:
In addition, Section III B of Regulation 1302 requires the FCPS HR Department and region assistant superintendents to “thoroughly examine” six factors in allocating staffing reserve positions.
- Evaluate and adjust the principal’s proposed classroom teacher position trades, resource trades and uses of grant proceeds that increase class sizes;
- Consider creating multi-age or combination classes
- Consider using school funds or region office funds to lower class size.
The new FCPS regulation establishes both hard class size caps that are very similar to the existing Virginia state law caps and somewhat lower “standard” class sizes that trigger additional administrative scrutiny and the potential assignment of an aide, or, less often, a teacher from the FCPS staffing reserve.Regulation 1302 imposes hard class size caps of 28 students for Kindergarten classes (which have a teacher plus an aide), 30 students for grades 1 through 3, and 35 students for grades 4 through 6. These FCPS class size caps are the same as Virginia’s class size caps for 1st through 6th grade except that all special education students are included in counting the number of students for the FCPS class size caps. When classes exceed FCPS caps, principals “should” consider the actions listed in section III of the regulation, described above, to reduce class sizes. “If these actions are deemed insufficient, a teacher should be allocated from the staffing reserve” and “students should be reassigned to balance class sizes to 27 or fewer.”In addition, the FCPS regulation establishes a class size “standard” for grades 1 through 6, which trigger additional scrutiny, where principals “should” consider using one of the strategies listed in section III (above) to reduce those class sizes. If “these actions are deemed insufficient,” the school might be allocated an aide or – less often – an extra teacher from the staffing reserve.For 1st through 3rd grade classes that exceed 27 students, principals “should” try to reduce class sizes using the methods listed in section III of the regulation (see above). If “these actions are deemed insufficient, then an instructional assistant should be allocated from the staffing reserve to support classes at that grade level. If the number of students in classes above 27 totals 4 or more, a teacher should be added instead of an instructional assistant; students should be reassigned to balance class sizes to 27 or fewer.”The same approach is used when 4th through 6th grade classes reach 31 students. Principals “should” consider using their authority and existing resources under section III, above, to reduce those 4th through 6th grade class sizes. They should ask the region office for its funds to reduce class sizes. And if those approaches “are deemed insufficient,” FCPS will allocate an extra aide from the countywide staffing reserve to “support classes at that grade level.” If the number of students in classes above 30 totals 6 or more, “a teacher should be added instead of an instructional assistant” and “students should be reassigned to balance class sizes to 30 or fewer.”Regulation 1302 also incorporates some of the previously-discussed rules that Dr. Garza announced to ensure that schools did not get to keep extra teachers assigned based on inaccurate student enrollment projections; excess positions will be taken from those schools based on actual enrollment through the 10th instructional day in the first grading period.These guidelines are only “applicable until the end of the second grading period.”
- Current use of school resources.
- Current trades (including trades of positions and of instructional funds).
- The number of students at each grade level.
- The use of multi-age or combination classes within the school.
- Available space in the building.
- Time of year.
At School Board work session on Janary 29, 2015, FY 2016 Proposed Budget Recommendations to Address Large Classes was presented. Class size triggers and caps will be used to allocate extra teachers (caps) and aides (triggers) from the $3.1 million placeholder in the FY 2016 Advertised Budget.
- FCPS has hired a consultant to improve the accuracy of projections for individual schools, which are used to allocate teacher positions.
- Fall 2014, Dr. Garza personally analyzed class size data for every class in every elementary school, including:
- whether those classes were AAP Center or Local Level IV classes; and
- the number of special education students in each class, if any, who were excluded from the reported class sizes.
- View FY2014-2015 elementary class size report ES Class Sizes – FY 2015 (1)
- In this report, some schools have classes with fewer than 17 students, while others have classes with 30 or more students. Under the $3.1 million class size initiative in the FY 2016 Advertised Budget, FCPS will allocate an aide to a 1st through 3rd grade class with over 27 students and will allocate another teacher to that grade if class sizes exceed 30 students. For 4th through 6th grade classes, an aide will be allocated if class sizes exceed 30 students and an additional teacher will be allocated if class sizes exceed 35 students. For these purposes, all special education students will be counted as members of the class, even though they may not be considered members of the class for purposes of the state class size cap.
- Spring 2015, FCPS reviewed principal requests to “trade” classroom teacher positions for administrative, resource or other positions.
- This year, SY2015-2016, FCPS will start pulling (“claw back”) excess positions from schools with high projections, which positions presumably will be added to the staffing reserve. Click here to view CSC’s opinion on this new regulation.