District leaders look at Canby class sizes
Canby School District leaders joined the larger conversation around class sizes at the Feb. 7 board work session, when Superintendent Trip Goodall presented Canby's data.
The data shows many of Canby's class sizes exceed Governor Kate Brown's new targets, so if her proposed budget is approved, it could impact Canby's schools.
In her proposed budget for 2019-2021, Brown has dedicated nearly $800 million to the School Improvement Fund, specifically to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through third grade and to ensure all school districts provide a full, 180-day academic year.
Of course, Brown's budget is only proposed and is yet to be approved in the legislature.
The legislature must adopt a budget by the end of June 2019.
"We must finally fix our underfunded education system," Brown said in the introduction to the Governor's Budget.
She continued, "From preschool to K-12 to universities and community colleges, my plan aligns with the priorities of the Student Success Committee and the Oregon Business Plan. This is emblematic of the broad agreement among Oregonians that we must address the long-term structural obstacles to improving our education system."
Canby's own class-size targets, at 24 students for grades K-3, differ from Brown's. Just two of Canby's six elementary schools are failing to meet this target. Both Carus Elementary and Ninety-One School have an average of 25 students in grades K-3.
"Carus is the one elementary that right now numbers are higher than we anticipated," Goodall said to the board at the meeting. "Across the district, I think the numbers are really solid with regard to trying to keep the class sizes where I think that they should be."
But most of Canby's elementary schools do not meet Brown's more idealistic targets. According to Brown's priorities detailed on www.oregon.gov, she would like to reduce class sizes to an average of 20 students in kindergarten and 23 students in grades 1-3. As it sits now, all of Canby's elementary schools exceed an average of 20 students in kindergarten, and all but two exceed an average of 23 students in grades 1-3.
Trost Elementary and Knight Elementary meet Brown's 1-3 target at 21.33 students and 23 students respectively.
"I'm hopeful that with the Governor's budget, we're going to get some increased funding," Goodall said, "so that would really help us in this area."
Goodall assured the board that when class sizes do get too high, building principals are good about communicating that.
"I think they all recognize what I've always called hot spots. If there's a hot spot in your building, I've got to know, and then we're going to find out what kinds of resources we can bring to alleviate that problem," Goodall said. "So far, I think that's been manageable."
In the past, the district has moved teachers, added instructional assistants and more to help keep classes manageable.
At Baker Prairie Middle School, class sizes for core subjects average 29.75, exceeding the district goal of 28; Canby High School's class sizes for core subjects average 27.25, meeting the district target of 32.