High School Schedules and Class Sizes

Last Friday afternoon I met with Dr. Preston, Director of School Allotments, to look at class sizes in the school district. He is a very nice and intelligent person who put up with my questions with patience.

I finally got an answer to the question I asked Dr. Pringle in September of last year. The 9th grade schedules at Tucker High were not set until Sept. 4th because of change requests by the students. The current electronic student information system, ESIS, allows changes to be made by overriding whatever "stops" are in the system. When a schedule change is made in the system, things fall apart.

Up until now, students could change their schedules after school starts. In the future, all change requests will have to be submitted before the school year ends.

The biggest take-a-way from that meeting was Dr. Preston focuses on, and works with, average class sizes by grade for each school. He demonstrated to me how each school is allotted enough teachers to keep average class sizes from exceeding DCSD maximum. 

The other thing I took away was the current ESIS system in not capable of providing a segment-by-segment look at each school. What I mean by that is, Dr. Preston can not look up Tucker High and see how many students are in 5th period science in a particular classroom. Dr. Preston reported the new electronic student information system, Infinite Campus, provides that capability as well as many other features which will improve the operations of the school district. 

One of the features available in Infinite Campus is the ability for him (school allotments) to lock specific classrooms to avoid overcrowding. He has been working with the facilities department to build a database of classroom dimensions which can be used to determine class size limits. In theory, if a classroom was built to hold 30 students, 31 students will not be allowed to register for a class in that room. I see this as a potential Pandora's Box creating the need for more trailers and hastening the need to draw new attendance lines in the district.

One thing I did not realize is, the state doesn't fund a 4th or 5th grade teacher until there are 29 students in the classroom.  Reducing that number needs to be a focus of advocacy efforts from everyone. From now on when I speak of reducing class sizes I will include the limits placed on the districts by the state. 

The photo attached to this post shows the average number of students in a classroom needed to fully fund the teacher with state funds. State funding seems to be all or nothing. If the average class size is below that number, the district loses funding. The state recommended class sizes are not listed, but can be found here in the appendixes.

The bottom line - the school district is aware there have been problems every August and is working to prevent them. 

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Cheryl Miller April 04, 2014 at 03:14 PM
Did you ask him about affidavits? Where are all the additional students coming from each year and why are they allowing schools to exceed max capacity? Shouldn't the rule be that you only allow students in the attendance zone first and then transfers (legitimate) only up to the number that the school can accommodate safely and that's it? They should not change attendance zones to reduce population until we know for sure that the population being protected actually belongs at that school. Otherwise we will end up zoning some areas that are actually a part of the Tucker community away from our own Tucker schools simply because the school district's software accounts for a certain number of transfers each year, never questioning whether or not that number is legitimate or whether it could be reduced by a real "need" basis.
Kirk Lunde April 05, 2014 at 01:58 PM
We didn't discuss affidavits. They present a challenge because the legitimate transfers such as IB students are counted before the first day of school. However, most of the students attending on an affidavit show up on or after the first day of school. It seems to me if Grady High can investigate affidavits, DeKalb County Schools should also be able to investigate affidavits. I absolutely believe attendance lines need to be redrawn to reduce overcrowding, but, as of last Tuesday, there were only 1,499 students at Tucker High. Over 300 students have left since the beginning of October, so one question becomes, is Tucker High really overcrowded. The other question is why have so many students left Tucker High.


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