New Castle News

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March 9, 2013

Classroom size factors into Lockley construction project

(Continued)

NEW CASTLE — THE ARCHITECT’S VIEW

Magusiak said he and district business manager Joseph Ambrosini met with Esposito the day after that meeting, and he told them there are rooms in the plans that could accommodate higher enrollment figures.

When it provided enrollment figures to the state to have the plans approved for reimbursement, the district had used the department of education’s projections.

According to Magusiak and Ambrosini, the state requires districts to use the education department’s enrollment projections, or a district can pay for its own demographic study.

They explained school districts were “overbuilding” and the state did not want to share in the reimbursements for buildings that were bigger than what schools actually need.

According to Esposito, the Pennsylvania Department of Education standard for class sizes is typically 25 students.

Esposito said the plans for the Lockley center were designed for 10 classrooms each for first and second grades, not including special education, and 12 classrooms for kindergarten.

“There are extra spaces built into the building to accommodate the classes for a year or two,” he noted.

For example, each grade level will have a room for enrichment and remediation, and kindergarten would share an enrichment and remediation room with two classes per space.

He noted there also will be smaller group spaces throughout the building for those purposes as well.

An additional classroom will be located next to the library for “bubble” use, meaning if there are more students, he said.

“The district could use the pullout remedial rooms for those, and conduct remediation in the smaller rooms,” he said, giving it 11 classrooms per grade level.

That would reduce the class sizes to 25 for the first and second years, he estimated.

“That’s a pretty standard enrollment,” he said. “Then later when enrollment drops, the regular classrooms should be able to accommodate them.”

OTHER OPTIONS

Esposito pointed out that when the building was in the planning stages, the board was telling the administration to make changes and be reasonable about what they decided to build.

He noted the art and music rooms are larger than classrooms of 25 and there are two computer labs in the plans, too. Using some of those rooms for a couple of years also is a possibility, he said.

Because of the enrollment figures, the district will probably have to have two additional teachers to accommodate the extra classrooms, according to Magusiak and Ambrosini.

Ambrosini explained the district would not add new ones, rather, it would not cut as many teachers as anticipated.

The district always has stipulated that the preference would be to make staff cuts through attrition, he added.

The district currently has 39 teachers in the three grades. The new building will have 32 — 12 for kindergarten, 10 for first-grade and 10 for second grade — with possibly two more for the additional classrooms.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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