By MyRye.com Reader Vicki Edmonds
Edmonds is a Rye resident and an Osborn School parent and PTO member.
I witnessed some Rye parent power at the Rye Board of Ed meeting last week. On Tuesday evening I, along with 50 other Rye parents, teachers and interested others headed to the Middle School for another round of discussions on the proposed budget for 2011/12 school year.
Of the various topics and "line items" reviewed during the course of these economically challenged proceedings class size was a hot issue. Now as stated by one parent on the night, I don't need to list the many benefits of smaller classes since there is a wealth of information available on the net. And to be honest you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know a teacher can do a better job with 18 students in the class rather than 23 or more. It's helpful to know that the goal in the Rye School District is currently between 18 – 22 students per class – at least on the first day of school in September anyway.
Insight in to our current situation at Osborn Elementary was provided by Lauren Rosen, PTO President of Osborn Elementary, as she read a letter to Dr Shine and the Board of Ed. An extract from this letter:
“We strongly believe that maintaining our class size guidelines of 18-22 students per section is essential to our elementary schools. At the end of the 2010 school year this past June, Osborn elementary school had 543 students. At the beginning of this school year, in September, Osborn started with 583 students. At the close of school today (Tuesday), we are now at 603 students – a net increase of 60 students, almost 3 full classes. Our current 3rd grade is already over our recommended 18-22 students — each of our 4 sections has 23 students. Our 1st grade is currently at 22 children per section, the top of our guidelines and a critical year for learning to read. And it’s only March. We know it will be a challenge to maintain our class sizes of 18-22 students, yet, we know it is worth it and urge you to continue these class sizes (in the 2011/12 year)."
The 'parent power' in action was that 212 parents, including myself, had electronically signed this correspondence in the 24 hours before the meeting. It remains to be seen if our demands will be met as we await the final weeks of budget tweaking, a Board stamp of approval and finally the District vote. As experienced last year, it will all still depend on the comings and goings of current and new residents this summer. Of course the lack of kindergarten spots in Manhattan, private or public, certainly impacted our intake last year and looks likely to do the same this year. Add to this the resurgence in the expat community in Rye and perhaps we see some trends to explain our booming popularity. If anyone has any greater insight in to predictive population modeling in a town like Rye where birth rate is proving an ineffective tool please attend the next Board of Ed meeting on March 29th!