BURNT HILLS: Parents seek smaller classes

Parents and officials in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District are looking at solutions to giving kids more time with their teachers.

Parents have expressed concern about class sizes in Stevens Elementary School and Charlton Heights. Third and fourth grade classrooms have been burgeoning, with class sizes hovering around 24 to 25 pupils.

Last summer, more students came into these elementary schools, and there are also more special education students integrated into the classrooms, said Rick Evans, assistant school superintendent. "Pashley used to be a hot spot, but we've taken care of that."

Evans said, however, that many students enrolled in special education programs already have the assistance they need.

"When the kids are integrated into the classrooms, they often come with teaching assistants, which are a big support for them," said Evans. "They also may not spend a full day in the classroom, so the number of students may not be increased all day."

As the board of education mulls the 2007-2008 school budget draft, there are two teaching assistant positions that might be combined instead to one full-time elementary grade teacher. The board is considering creating an additional third grade in Charlton Heights.

Parent Pam Delucia told the board she fully supports adding another classroom to Charlton Heights.

"There's nothing more precious than a teacher's time, and in a community at the level of resources we have, this is indeed doable," said Delucia. "My daughter was in a class of 17 before we moved into this district, and there's a noticeable change in her attitude toward school now that she's in a class of 25. I think we can do better."

Evans stressed that the additional classroom, regardless of where it is created, won't change the tax rate.

"This was built into the budget forecast," said Evans. "There is also adequate space to make this additional classroom happen."

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