Steamboat Springs None of the Editorial Board members who wrote the Sunday editorial on class size were at that particular school board meeting, and it showed. I found it misleading. It, along with the accompanying article "Class-size debate murky," did not give an accurate portrayal of the meeting or the issue.
No one was arguing for a "hard cap" on class sizes. In fact, the letter from parents stated, "We realize there would have to be some flexibility in having a cap." The problem is that the current policy calling for a 19-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio in elementary and 18-to-1 in secondary is not working well enough by itself. If it were, there wouldn't be several elementary classes at 24 and 25 students, middle school core classes at 27 and 28 students, and Spanish classes at as many as 30 students. So call it what you want, but many parents and teachers feel we need something different in the policy, be it a "soft cap" or a clearer ratio system.
Of the about 15 people who stood up to speak at the meeting, almost all were there in support of keeping classes small, and several mentioned needing clarification on the policy. Other than the middle school administration, only one parent spoke against a cap. And yet the Pilot article stated that "several parents spoke against the prospect of a hard cap on class sizes." That simply is not true.
What did take place was a great discussion and healthy debate about the class size issue. This meeting and discussion would not have taken place at all if not for continued pressure. As an administrative policy, class size will not be on the agenda for public School Board meetings. That is why so many parents want it to be a board policy as it was in the past, not a closed-door administrative policy. We have had four superintendents in the past six years, all hired from out of state, and they each have had their own idea of what is appropriate class size. We may currently have an excellent superintendent, but I would rather see our locally elected board members set this policy in public.
Finally, limiting class sizes does not necessarily mean cutting programs or salaries. The mill levy override that was passed two years ago addresses teacher salaries, and the half-cent sales tax is meant to provide money for class sizes outside of the regular district budget. The fear-inspiring argument about having to cut other programs in order to have small classes is not justified and was addressed at the meeting. Of course no one wants to cut important programs; common sense would be used in making decisions. That doesn't mean there should be no attempt to improve our class size policy.