KCSD Board addresses parent concerns over class size

By Eliza Mohler, Staff Writer, The Times

Parent Lisa Anderson addresses the school board about class sizes on Monday night.

KENNETT SQUARE – Three weeks into summer, and some Kennett Consolidated School District parents are already thinking about the next academic year.

Lisa Anderson, a parent from New Garden Elementary School, addressed the board about recent and potential future increases in class sizes at the elementary school level during Monday night’s meeting, which approximately two dozen parents attended.

In her statement, Anderson said there is a lack of transparency from the school district regarding class size. She said many parents have commented that their children are learning less and understanding less when they are grouped in larger class sizes, and that some students have been informing their parents about increases in behavioral problems in those classrooms.

“Our parents are feeling more that their children haven’t been receiving as much support on the ground,” Anderson said, referring to students who need extra assistance with their studies, which has sometimes resulted in parents picking up the slack when they felt that teachers or the district could not. “We are not questioning the skills of our teachers or their performance, we have wonderful teachers,” she added, noting that due to budget cuts, district teachers have to do more with fewer resources.

Board Treasurer Michael Finnegan, acting as president pro tem for the meeting, thanked Anderson for speaking.

“We value every child and want them to succeed,” he said, adding that if anyone wants to talk directly with school staff or board members about rumors regarding class size or any other issue, they are welcome to do so because the board wants to stop the spread of bad information among parents. “We hear some weird things by the time it gets to the fourth, fifth, six person,” he said.

Superintendent Barry Tomasetti said that the district follows class size guidelines of 22 students to every one teacher in kindergarten through third grade, and 25 students to every one teacher in grades four and five.

Tomasetti also cited different examples of research that are being done on variable class sizes and noted that budget cuts in recent years have added to the problem, but that if parents reach out for extra help for their students, the district will make sure that they get it.

“We’re not satisfied, we’re always trying to do new things to improve,” he said. “I think our teachers are second to none.”

Dave Kronenberg, also a parent from New Garden Elementary School, asked the board about whether his children’s class size next year might be affected by teacher rotations, and Tomasetti replied no.

Board President Kendra LaCosta and Vice President Joseph Meola were absent from the meeting, so Finnegan was appointed as president pro tem. Heather Schaen was also absent.

An executive session was held prior to the meeting, where the board discussed a separation and release agreement between the district and elementary school teacher Roger Martinie, which was subsequently approved during the meeting.

During Tomasetti’s report, he praised the district’s new summer math program and read the highlights of an email from an anonymous Latino member of the Kennett High School Class of 2011, who wrote to express his support of the district during its recent struggles with racism and the nationally changing landscape regarding immigration.

There will be no August meeting, so the board will next meet on Monday, September 11.

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