Current WCPSS allotment formulas set the average maximum class size for grades K-3 at 24 students, but they fund a teacher for every 27 students for 4-5 grades. This discrepancy in class size requirements means that as our 3rd graders move up to 4th grade, our schools often cannot fund a 4th grade teacher for the rising 3rd grade class on a given track; their class size is now too small. Families are forced to either move to another track, or deal with children (and after-school care, and vacations) on different calendars. This causes considerable anxiety among our families and contributes to attrition among our families with older age students.
What is the problem?
An example is illustrative: Say your school has 44 kids in two 3rd grade classes on track 3. When those kids move to 4th grade, all of a sudden, the school does not have enough students in those classes to pay for two 4th grade teachers, because WCPSS policy requires at least 54 (27+27) students. Clearly, 44 is too many to consolidate into one class. So, the school (and affected families) are faced with a tough choice: Either they must move at least 10 students from other tracks onto track 3 to fill the minimum class-size requirement, or move as many as 17 track 3 students OFF this track and spit them among other tracks.
On a traditional calendar, this is not an issue because all students are on the same calendar. In a multi-track year-round school, however, it's as if the school is running 4 mini-schools – each with different curriculum schedules and vacation times.
This problem is exacerbated for families with multiple school-age children: If their 4th grader is moved off their track, they must either move other elementary-aged siblings, too, or deal with children (and after-school care, and vacations) on different calendars. This causes considerable anxiety among our families and contributes to attrition among our families with older age students.
What is the policy solution we propose?
The Brier Creek Elementary PTA is proposing that WCPSS lower the 27-student minimum allotment formula for 4th and 5th grade classes in multi-track, year round elementary schools. We ask that WCPSS change its allotment formula to allow our schools to receive funding for a 4th grade or 5th grade teacher for every 24 students.
How will families, children, teachers and WCPSS benefit by this policy solution?
The proposed change in allotment formula will provide our families with much-needed stability. We want to know that our children will be in the same school, on their same track and not be shuffled from year to year. It will allow our working families to plan for after-school care and track-out camps. It will allow our families to plan vacations.
The proposed change will benefit our children and their teachers, because it means smaller class sizes. Our school administrators won’t be forced to choose between larger class sizes or disrupting families by moving them across tracks.
We believe the proposed solution will also benefit the Wake County Public School System, because it means that fewer families will transfer out of year-round schools as their children reach the upper elementary school grades.