Students tip 'class cap'

Families in the Bethlehem Central School District come in all sizes, and when the children are school age, there can be temporary surges at the elementary level that result in classes being at, or sometimes exceeding, the maximum number of students allowed, also known as a class cap.

The school board voted unanimously at the Wednesday, Sept. 17, meeting to create a new class-size committee to re-evaluate its cap sizes and the situation in general.

The school has a general sliding scale for its elementary class caps, which starts at 23 students in first grade; 24 in second; 25 in third; 26 in fourth; and 27 in fifth, according to district spokesman Matt Leon, who said that Bethlehem tries to keep kindergarten classes around 20 students.

"Recognizing that class sizes are one element that contributes to student success, the district strives to keep class sizes reasonable and balanced," the school said in a release. "To do this, the district has developed 'class size caps.' These caps should not be seen as hard and fast, but rather guidelines that allow the district to develop its elementary configurations in any given year as it strives to provide the most supportive learning environments possible for all students."

During its Wednesday meeting, the Bethlehem Board of Education heard two residents speak about the situation currently affecting a couple of the elementary classes.

Resident Scott Banano thanked the board for their hard work in the community, but referring to his daughter's situation in one of the elementary schools, he said he wanted to address the issue of having classes at or above cap.

"I don't think we here in the town of Bethlehem want just acceptable. I think we expect a little more," Banano said. "I'd just like to see this addressed."

Banano said classes that are too large could prove "counterintuitive" to education in the district.

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