Class Size Matters

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Katie Crawford

The Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board held its first meeting since the 2017- 2018 school year began, welcoming its new student representative, senior Zoe Bock of Swarthmore, who delivered her first report. She noted that the school year appears to have started smoothly for the district, with Back to School nights and Home and School kickoff meetings happening across schools in the upcoming weeks.

Student representative Zoe Bock

The focus topic of the board meeting was a presentation by Superintendent Dr. Lisa Palmer regarding enrollment in the district’s elementary schools. Last year a group of concerned Swarthmore-Rutledge School parents approached the board about the imbalance of class size across district schools, particularly focusing on larger than normal class sizes at SRS.

This year, class size appears to be fairly consistent across all three schools.
• Kindergarten: NPE has 21 students per classroom; SRS 23; WES 21;
• 1st grade: NPE 19; SRS 22; WES 22;
• 2nd grade: NPE 22; SRS 20; WES 22;
• 3rd grade: NPE 24; SRS 24; WES 26;
• 4th grade: NPE has 26; SRS 25; WES 24; and
• 5th grade: all three schools have class sizes of 25.

Overall enrollment across the schools is as follows: NPE 519; SRS 600; and WES 509.

As a result of the conversations regarding possible solutions for class size which took place last spring, the district offered parents of students living in Pine Ridge and Park Ridge freedom of choice between WES and SRS for their children this school year.

The district hosted an open house for families living in Park Ridge and Pine Ridge with WES principal Dr. Josh Peterkin and SRS principal Dr. Angela Tuck in the spring of 2017. Neighborhood residents also met independently, many voicing their goal of keeping the community together rather than having students disperse to different schools. Ultimately, there was a net movement of 18 students to WES from SRS.

Board member Dr. Allison Karpyn commented both on what a nice process this had been, and said that being a part of this conversation left her feeling “so proud” of the district community. Dr. Palmer praised the members of the Pine Ridge/Park Ridge neighborhoods for their open minded approached and their emphasis on community.

Dr. Palmer also explained some of the hidden intricacies of enrollment numbers using as an example the class size of a particular grade at NPE, which went from an enrollment of 95 to 97. While that would appear to be a modest change, the numbers shift encompasses eight student withdrawals and ten new students, including one student returning to NPE as a home school after having been transferred to a different district school.

The Jack Hontz Memorial Weekend will be held September 22 and 23, honoring Mr. Hontz, who led the Strath Haven marching band for 34 years, passed away this summer. The weekend will begin with the Friday night home football game where alumni will join the marching band at half time. This will include a presentation to the Hontz family. The tribute will continue on Saturday with a concert to be held in the high school auditorium beginning at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10, with all proceeds benefitting the Jack Hontz Endowment.

Leave a Reply