Slight class size increase is a good idea | August 28, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Perspective - August 28, 2009

Slight class size increase is a good idea

The School District trustees recently gave district staff the OK to increase the maximum number of students in grades K-3 and in ninth-grade classes from 20 to 22. This was a necessary step, both to save money and to avoid diverting students to other schools.

Some parents and teachers may decry this increase as a slippery slope that will eventually lead to much larger classroom sizes. Perhaps future budgeting may necessitate larger class sizes but this slight increase is not leading anywhere; it is dealing with the current financial and practical situation. Twenty was an arbitrary number and, while it worked well, under the current financial crunch it makes sense to allow one or two more students into each classroom.

Just as important is the fact that allowing these extra students into the lower grades may save families the extreme inconvenience of having their children diverted to other schools. When classrooms are mandated to no longer accept new students after they have reached 20, children are diverted to whatever school in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District has openings. This may not be the next closest school but can be one on the other side of the district.

Assistant Superintendent Christine Williams reported that maintaining the 20:1 ratio at this time would mean diverting more than 300 students to other schools. She even cited a family with four children faced with the possibility of attending four different schools. If this move helps families stay together, it is worth it: As financial times become harder, it is important to keep up school spirit and the feeling of community that result in happy, secure students, parent volunteers and monetary contributions.

This decision by the trustees does not mean that each classroom will immediately see an increase in students. Williams estimated that 57 percent would remain at 20 students or fewer. Superintendent Steve Enoch said that the move saves the district approximately $700,000 and prevents the layoffs of 10-12 teachers, which are also important facts to take into consideration.

Best of luck to Mike Shimansky

Our heartfelt wishes for recovery go out to Danville Councilman Mike Shimansky, who is battling bacterial meningitis is a hospital in San Diego, where he was visiting family when he became ill Aug. 17. The community has been grieved to hear of his fight against this insidious disease and the toll it has taken on him.

Shimansky has been active in many ways, from establishing the All Wars Memorial at Oak Hill Park, to helping the American Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and fighting fires in San Diego County, as well as taking on the role of Santa Claus at the Danville Community Band holiday concert and at the town's Elf Workshops. All of this community involvement is in addition to serving as a Town Council member for 20 years. When he was last mayor, he established the monthly Mayor's Coffees on each first Friday morning that subsequent mayors have continued.

We are all pulling for Shimansky as he continues his struggle to overcome this illness and begins to recuperate. We look forward to his return to Danville and his continuing involvement in the community.


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