How big is your dc's school? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-11-2010, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm wondering how many students are in your elementary school. If you go to a large school, do you feel there are any drawbacks?

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Old 08-11-2010, 05:47 PM
 
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525 kids in 6 grades (k-5). There are about 80-100 kids per grade (not per class, per GRADE).

For me, the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages. The advantages are
-They have the money to keep the teacher-student ratio under 25:1. Ds' 3rd grade class last year was the biggest of the 3rd grades and he had 22.
-They have enough teachers to really do differentiated instruction. Ds (and now dd because she's starting there) will be grouped by achievement for reading and math. The teacher didn't have to worry about reaching the kids who were still really struggling to read and the kids who were reading at 5th and 6th grade levels. The struggling readers got a really small class (something like 6) and a reading specialist. The upper end readers were together and got challenged. The kids in the middle were met in the middle.
-There are enough different kids that the kids can find someone in their grade to socialize with.
-They've got a big library, and a big gym. They get music and art. They've got a full time counselor (many smaller schools get one half time or less).

Disadvantages:
-A lot of kids = it being harder to get noticed sometimes. But really, that's not been an issue
-The lunchroom is really noisy at lunch.
-The school has outgrown its rooms and 3rd grade was held in portables.

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Old 08-11-2010, 06:23 PM
 
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My son's school is small. His class has 15 kids (at least last year). But some of the other classes have around 30 kids. I think the average class size in the elementary is 20.

It's a K-12 school so there's at least that many kids in all grades. I went to school there as well and graduated in a class of 20. I love that it's small and that he isn't just one of many. Plus I know most of the teachers and staff so I'm pretty happy with him there. It does have drawbacks, but that's because of the school itself, not the size.
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Old 08-11-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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900+ in grades K-6.

It is a Title 1 school, has one of the highest population of ELL kids amongst the elementary schools in the district (not the highest though)also houses an alterative/choice program (included in the count), and is the CLC/Special Ed central for medically fragile kids (with our numbers we get 2 full time nurses).

I love our school. Oddly, it doesn't seem that big. And the various programs (including CLC) do get a lot of time with each other. Love the community, love the teachers I know, love the administration. It does tend to draw the best and brightest teachers/staff IMO.

I think administration makes or breaks a large school. Ours does a really good job of working hard to create a community feel, even with the two components (my kids' program and the large number of CLC classrooms) outside of general ed.

Except for the 6th grade class (which is HUGE) the class numbers are no worse than anywhere else in the district (except for schools with declining enrollment, like our neighborhood school), our choice program's numbers are pretty low. They are bursting at the seams though, incredible what a elementary population boom there has been in the surrounding neighborhood that feeds into this school! 3 full time kindergartens (24 kids each) plus 2 half day kindies (24 each there too) this year. Unbelievable!

The amenities are great. Two playgrounds, full time PE teachers, full time music teachers, a huge library, decent amount of computers in the library, a pool (operated by a private company now but the CLC kids and general ed "buddies" get to use it!), and the layout is kinda weird (pods of 6 classrooms each) but it works. (no noisy cafeteria--the kids eat outside, int he pod or in their classrooms). And oddly enough, if you volunteer at all school things, you get to know a lot of the kids.

My neighborhood school is very small. My daughter attended kindy there and had 16 students in her class (including her). But I prefer the "feel" of the current school. It's a lot more open and friendly and if you like to volunteer you're actually needed and appreciated and welcomed. I could see an individual's preference going either way. They're both great, I just really enjoy the people at my kids' current school.
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:01 PM
 
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DS's school is large - it is only for grades K4-1, and there are 450 students, so at around 160 in his grade, and class size is between 19 and maybe 22 students.

I'd agree with all of the benefits LynnS listed. I will say that the teachers and staff do not seem to know the children outside of their own little spheres very well, but I'm not sure that has been a huge deal. And when we've needed extra support (speach therapy), the support was there and was terrific.

I went to a school that had about 120 kids 1-8, so this was a big change for me. I had a really rough time in junior high with so few kids in my grade level. If you were not one of the cool kids, it was a very, very lonely place to be. When I moved to a large high school and had a wider range of kids to choose from for friends, it was so liberating! I'm glad that my son will have a bigger social sphere right from the start.
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:17 PM
 
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Last year our school jumped from 240 to around 300 kids. It's a K-6 school.

Quote:
They have the money to keep the teacher-student ratio under 25:1. Ds' 3rd grade class last year was the biggest of the 3rd grades and he had 22.
-They have enough teachers to really do differentiated instruction. Ds (and now dd because she's starting there) will be grouped by achievement for reading and math. The teacher didn't have to worry about reaching the kids who were still really struggling to read and the kids who were reading at 5th and 6th grade levels. The struggling readers got a really small class (something like 6) and a reading specialist. The upper end readers were together and got challenged. The kids in the middle were met in the middle.
-There are enough different kids that the kids can find someone in their grade to socialize with.
-They've got a big library, and a big gym. They get music and art. They've got a full time counselor (many smaller schools get one half time or less).
These all apply to our school too, except our counsellor is half time.

Last year they had ONE Grade 4 class. There were 28 kids in it, but it was a group of kids where it worked. there are other classes no way would it have been attempted.lol My dd is going into Grade 4 this year & they wish they could have had 3 grade 4 classes, but they're doing 2(well 1 full 4 & 1 split 3/4)

The kids eat their lunches in their classrooms there is no cafeteria. The teachers know all the kids names, the families, siblings, etc.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:44 PM
 
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DS is in a K-2 that has about 450 kids. The classes are small though; his K class is 11 students.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:25 PM
 
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DD's elementary was about 500. Her middle school 600. Her high school is about 1000 (though in a different district from the other schools.) DS's elementary is about 700 now though it was considerably smaller when he started there. His particular grade only has 34 kids.

I don't know that size of a school has all that much to do with what they have and don't have. I think the differences are really at the district level. We're a pretty small district in our county (my kids went to the largest campuses... other schools in our area are less than 200.) They have a lot of freedom to do what the community feels is important. A group of 40 families advocated for a language immersion school and in our district and that was enough families for the board to really take them seriously. I don't know that 40 families in another part of the county would have been a loud enough cry. Sometimes I think the giant districts are so overwhelmed by the shear number of kids they must accomodate and educate that they have to really scale down on anything special.

Yes, our schools share music teachers but then, with less kids, it's easier to do. Two music teachers manage one of the best band and orchestra programs in the county. We share Mandarin and Spanish Enrichment teachers but that is something none of our neighboring districts offer at all. My friends DD goes to school in one of the largest districts. Her middle school has 1800 kids. You know how many electives they have to choose from? FIVE! DD's middle school had about 15 despite being a 3rd the size.

I guess my point is that some large schools can offer more. Some tiny schools can't offer much at all. It's probably the schools in the middle that fair the best.... not so big that kids get lost, not so small that there isn't enough resources to help the few kids that need them.

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Old 08-11-2010, 10:37 PM
 
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750 kids in K-5: The have the school divided into 2 instructional systems, which effectively reduces some of the "sea of kids" effect.

We see many of the same advantages as Lynn reports. Also, the school has several staff floating subs, so substitutes know the kids and the kids know the subs. We have not so far had the same luck on differentiation (I think this is as much size as it is the philosophy of the principal), but DD will have significant differentiation next year anyways. The school has 1.5 gifted teachers, special ed teachers with specialties in the LDs served.

Drawbacks not mentioned: >70% arrive at the neighborhood school in family cars, making for a mess of traffic twice a day. Also, the school is too big to let enough kids use the gym during recess for bad weather days.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:39 PM
 
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My kid's school is really small -- about 120 for Jr. K - 6. While there are parts of it that I love, I actually wish it were a bit bigger. There is only 1 class per grade and there is little turn-over amongst children or teachers, so if you don't like someone you are stuck. And if you are the "out" kid or group (as my DS is), its really really hard to overcome. And if your child and a teacher's style are a poor match, there are no alternatives. Now, as a small private school there are some huge advantages as well, like class sizes of 15 with multiple teachers per class and specialty teachers for art, music and sports. Every teacher and staff member knows every child and their family and no child is ever left behind, either figeratively or literally. But sometimes I wish there were more kids all the same.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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DS1's school is a pre-k through 6. It has about 850 kids. Class sizes are wonderfully small. He's in third grade this year and his class is 14 kids.

The GA teacher of the year last year came from his school. I've been really happy with everything. They don't have tons of "extra" programs, but they do have plenty of "specials." Art is once a week, music is once a week, library is once a week, computer lab is twice a week, PE is three times a week.

They also have a lot of different special events, which are a lot of fun for the kids(though I admit, I hate them).
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:53 PM
 
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We live in a city of approximately 126,000 people but we have huge educational diversity. We choiced my 2 older kids into a Core Knowledge Neighborhood School with a declining enrollment so that they could have the Core Knowledge with small class sizes. There were years that they were in a class of 11 and the whole student populatioin was about 250. It had all the kids from University Housing and had a moderate needs component and was a Title I school. It really had a lot to offer them. The one downside was the teacher turnover some years. We pulled my youngest from that school after 2nd grade and he goes to an Experiential School now. Up until this year the charter was written for 15 kids in a class in mixed aged classrooms. So about 112 in the whole school K-6. This year not only dis we add 7th but merged and moved in together with the 6-12 EL school so we now have about 350 kids in the same declining neighborhood school building my older 2 went to. His 6th grade class was his 2nd grade class
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Old 08-12-2010, 12:21 AM
 
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Very small. 50 kids in PK3-6th. A little less than half of those are in PK3 and PK4. The rest of the grades have about 4 students each.
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:46 AM
 
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We live in a town that has three elementary schools that are referred to as "community" schools, they are right in the neighborhoods and most, if not all, students walk, there really is no bus service except for the kids coming over for the extended day kindergarten program which takes place at this school. There are about 300 students K-5, three teachers for every grade except K, in which there is 1, we have have day K so she teaches both morning and afternoon. There were two K teachers last year but the enrollment this school year for K was down at this school so they moved the other teacher to one of the other school that had higher enrollment. The class sizes are between 15-18, there is one counselor, a language arts teacher, a reading recovery teacher, a PE teacher, three special ed teachers, a speech pathologist, two world language teachers, three music teachers, two art teacher, a computer teacher, and a science teacher. This school also has an amazing library.
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Old 08-12-2010, 02:06 AM
 
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The elementary school my younger daughter is attending (and older daughter is moving on from this year) is small 210 grades k-5. We have enjoyed small class sizes 18 in last years grade 5 when other schools in the district had up to 38 in 5th grade classes. My younger daughter's 1st grade is about 20 children. I like the community feel and recognizing almost everyone when we attend school events. I was most impressed when we saw the 4th grade teacher in the community when my oldest was in K and he knew her be name.

The middle school my older daughter is going to has about 600 students--I am feeling comfortable with the bigger school and think she is really ready to be part of a larger community. The high school they will attend has about 1000 students.
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:46 AM
 
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~100 kids in pre-k through 8; I wish there were 50 or 60 more kids

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Old 08-12-2010, 05:22 AM
 
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I just learned that our awesome charter school K-8 now has approx. 2000 kids. The school itself is small but they are packing them in there like sardines. To be fair, they aren't all there at the same time...they have 3 schedules you can choose from....7-12, 11-4, and 7:30-2:30.

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Old 08-12-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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My daughter's school is k-6. When she was in K, they had to hire another K teacher, since the limit in the rooms was 20:1, So far it seems like a good school. This year the school started a preppie K program for children who turn 5 before the dec 2nd cut off it and how children that are 4 when they start K might benefit from this program instead of doing K this year.


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Old 08-12-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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Last year, my dd's K-5 school had 341 students. There are 3 classes for each grade, with about 17-21 kids per class.

The size seems to be ideal. There are plenty of kids, but everyone still "knows" everyone. I only go in a few times a year, but the secretary immediately recognizes me and knows what child belongs to me (the secretary is pretty sharp, though). We have fulltime teachers for art, music, media, pe, and a fulltime counselor.

The only thing our smaller school doesn't have, relative to the larger elementary schools in the district, is on-site before and after school care (although there is a bus to and from the YMCA for that purpose). We don't use the supplemental care, so it isn't an issue for us.
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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I'm honestly not sure how many kids are at their school - 300 maybe? I'll have to find out. They have 22 kids per most classes, with 2 teachers (well, one is an assistant). This is actually almost too small of a class size, since they are in Montessori - but I think it works ou okay.

Their old "neighborhood" school had 900 something kids, hence why they built the new school. I imagine the student size will increase over the years as they build more houses in the area.

Their school seems like a good size - small enough that if I call or stop in, the office ladies know who my kids are, but big enough that they have things like an after-school program and a full-time nurse.

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Old 08-12-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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Our older kids attend a school for French Immersion... for 750 kids from Gr 1 to Gr 8.

I mostly like the size of the school. I have been chair of the school supporters' assoc for four years. We have a lot of support from parents that translates in to big fundraising, which means lots of support for school projects.

That school has the best admin team in the region. They have the highest qualifications in terms of HR training, teaching experience, professional development, and they are true community leaders. They are able to support their teachers, the parents, and the students so the school is a great community.

Our youngest ds has been going to a much smaller English language (in this area, that means "main stream" school).

He's had some awesome teachers, but they don't have a lot of support from their admin team. The admin team totally doesn't support the parents, and I have to say I personally question the professionalism of the principal, who came to the Remembrance Day assembly wearing a shear leopard print blouse, drinking a cup of coffee and holding her dog on a leash.

I do think that bigger schools get better admin teams and I think that is a part of having a good school.
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:49 AM
 
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My kids attend a tiny school. Last year there were about 85 students prek- 6th grade. This year it looks like it will be about 70-75 students.

I love the small class sizes. I love the community feeling of the school. I love that everyone knows everyone else, and no one falls through the cracks. I love that the teachers and staff go above and beyond to make the school a great place to be.

That said, I do see the advantages of a little larger school. I would love it if they had the funding for music and art classes with teachers who specialize in those areas.

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Old 08-14-2010, 12:12 AM
 
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My dd goes to a private Catholic school that (last year) had 187 students, grades Pre-K to 8. The maximum number of students is 200.

The public school down the street has 566 students, grades K to 5.

I like the small school atmosphere. Everyone knows eachother and knows me and my kids. Dh attended the school as a child and a couple of the teachers and the principal are still there. In fact, dd starts K on the 20th and the teacher was dh's 4th grade teacher.

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Old 08-15-2010, 01:46 AM
 
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My children's schools are bigger than I would like:

K-2 1,100 + students
3-5 1,000 students

The school doesn't differentiate as much as one would think they could. For example, all student in a grade learn from the same textbooks. I feel like I've had to twist arms to get my sons the math education they need. This year my oldest will be walking to the middle school (another 1,000 students, grade 6-8) each day to attend a math class, which will be a bit disruptive to his day, but hopefully will work out okay. But I know there must be enough other high-performing kids in his grade who could be taught at a higher level if they were grouped together for certain subjects.

Blegh. It's been a bit of an issue and frustrating to me that the large size doesn't seem to help.

Other than that, I think the larger size doesn't change too many elements (the car rider line is enormous, and they do have to split student performances into halves to accommodate the audience size) from smaller schools. In the primary school especially, you child's universe is mostly the one classroom and the rest are pretty irrelevant.

The school are pretty good, which is why families keep moving into this school zone and the schools keep growing and growing in size.

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Mom to John (age 11), James (age 9) & Katherine (age 5)
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