Delaforum previously reported, the waiver action was expected,
with 48 of the district's 136 primary-level classes oversize.
Supervisor Kim Doherty, who presented the request to do so to
the board, said that all schools with the exception of P.S. dui
Pont Intermediate, which also houses a kindergarten center, fall
into that category. Last year, there were 11 classes in two
schools that exceeded the limit.
oversize classes this year, 22 have 23 students, 22 have 24, and
four have 25. She said that some students in 11 of those classes
could be transferred to classes in the same school with fewer
than 22 students and all would come in under the limit, but that
would not be an educationally sound thing to do. The class-size
cap is applied as of the end of October, when young children
have had nearly two months to 'bond' with their teachers.
to an average class size in the lower grades of 21.6, Doherty
said that was a "slight gain" over last year, when the average
was 21.1.The average has been inching up since hitting a low of
20.2 in the 1999-2000 academic year.
granted the waiver unanimously after minimal discussion
and also approved a waiver from the requirement that 98% of
state-authorized teachers be assigned to the buildings with
generate those teacher 'units'. Only one district school, the
Bush Early Learning Center, does not meet that requirement.
Gough, spokesman for Delaware Department of Education, told
Delaforum that, statewide, the trend toward reducing class size
in primary grades has been continuing since the law setting the
limit was enacted. This is the fifth year that it has been in
appears that all districts [have] made a concerted effort to
keep classes in grades kindergarten-through-third small," he
year, 1,296, or 89% of the 1,449 classrooms at that level had 22
students or fewer, he said. That was up from 1,270, or 86% of
1,479 classes the previous year. However, seven of the 15
districts which have elementary schools were in full compliance,
up from only three in the 2000-2001 academic year. Fifty-one of
93 schools met the law's requirement, up from 37 the previous
year. Data from last year is the latest available.
All five of the
affected districts in New Castle County granted themselves
waivers last year. Gough has no way of knowing yet how many
districts are seeking waivers this year. The law allows school
boards to grant them to their own districts without recourse to
The board did not get
around to that item on its agenda until 10:25 p.m., by which
time no one from the general public was present to speak to the
matter. The district earlier had solicited public comment,
without revealing the content of the waiver request, for 14
days. There was no report at the meeting on how many, if any,
written comments were received during that period.
The facilities policy
was tabled after members of the board questioned absence of
specific provisions governing the maintenance of athletic fields
and the nonprofit organizations on an initial list of those
entitled to use facilities in most circumstances without charge
other than reimbursement for extra custodial and other direct
Craig Gilbert was not
satisfied with an explanation from district lawyer Ellen Cooper
that school authorities' ability to reject a request to use a
field was ample provision to permit them to 'rest' a field to
allow it to 'regenerate' itself. Overuse of a field, Gilbert
said, can damage it. The problem involved, he said, is that
someone from an organization that had been turned down "might
drive by and see it not being used," resulting in a public
relations faux pas.
Under the proposed
policy, "we can say no and we will say no," Cooper said. The law
enacted last spring, she explained, said that a district 'may'
grant outsiders the use of facilities, not that it 'shall' do
Nancy Doorey raised
the point that the freebee list included several organizations
affiliated with Catholic churches and one with a church of
another denomination. Cooper said that all qualified as
providers of sports activities for children. and that courts
have ruled that providing free public services to religious
organizations for other than religious purposes complies
with the U.S. and Delaware constitutions. It was pointed out
that the district does charge church groups which hold services
or religious rites in its buildings.
Gilbert questioned the
presence of the Y.M.C.A. on the list when that organization
charges the district for use by some classes of its Camp
Tockwough facilities in Maryland.
Also questioned was
the status of Team Delaware, a swimming organization, which
previously was cited in a state auditor's report as recipient of
improper below-cost use of district swimming pools and directed
to pay the difference. It was not immediately known if that has
Organizations on the
list will pay a reduced rate, sufficient to meet the district's
cost, for use of pools, auditoriums, gymnasiums and the like.
Cooper said the
freebee list was drawn up to include organizations which had
actually used facilities during the past year and was not
intended as inclusive of those which might ask to do so in the
future. If that happens and they meet the standards set in the
law and policy, the board can add them to the list. It lso can
remove organizations from the list.
The board received as
'first readings' a proposed new policy governing procedures for
applying for outside grants and and a proposal to modify the
policy on contracts to include real estate leases.