To keep class sizes from being too large, the Brandon-Evansville School Board approved three sections for this fall’s incoming kindergartens – a first in the district.
The number of students enrolled in previous years has kept the district to just two sections of kindergartens.
Superintendent Don Peschel, who asked for the approval at the Monday, May 17, regular school board meeting, noted that there are currently 50 students registered for kindergarten for the 2021-22 school year. And he anticipates there will be more.
Prior to the approval, there was plenty of discussion with Peschel asking school board members if they were comfortable with having 25 – or more students – in each class. He said he wasn’t and that there is plenty of research that indicates 25 kindergartens in one class is too many.
However, having three sections presents a problem – there isn’t enough space.
Peschel said that he is looking into options and that one of the options would be to move the School Readiness Program to Grace Lutheran Church. School Readiness is a two-day-a-week program for children who are 4-years-old. It is taught by a licensed early childhood educator, as well as teacher aides.
Another option would be to move that program into the Early Childhood Family Education area, but if that happened, a wall would have to be built to section off the area for School Readiness.
“Grace Lutheran is an option, but details have not been hashed out,” said Peschel, noting that the students would be housed in the basement of the church.
Several other ideas were asked about by school board members, including just having a third teacher float between two classes, using portable classrooms or maybe using the lobby area for programming or other office spaces.
Peschel stated, “We just don’t have any space, folks. Every single room is being utilized.”
While the details of the space issues are worked on, the district will also work on the hiring of a third kindergarten teacher.
Peschel also noted that this is going to continue to be a problem as those kindergartens move through each grade level. The district hasn’t had to deal with three sections of any grade since combining the two districts several years ago.
"We just don’t have any space, folks. Every single room is being utilized."
- Don Peschel, superintendent
Deb Berry, an ECFE educator in the district who was in attendance at the meeting, shared with the school board that there are currently 65 3-year-olds in the district and 60 4-year-olds so that the three sections of classrooms is going to continue being an issue for the district.
School Board Chairperson Diane Richter said that although the space issue is a problem, having that many students is a positive situation to be in.
“Kids and parents want to come here,” she said. “That’s a good thing.”
Over the course of the summer, the district will be trying to figure out a solution. As space is an issue districtwide, the school board members have started holding regular work sessions to discuss the option of moving forward with a fall referendum for a remodeling and addition project. The next work session is slated for Thursday, May 26, at 6:30 p.m. in the gymnasium at the Brandon School.
Peschel said the district is going to be offering summer school this year for students who need it. He said it is an opportunity for them to recover credits and get help if they so choose.
The students to be offered summer school will be identified by their teachers and parents will be notified of the option to send their child to summer school.
It will take place from June 14 through July 2 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Transportation will be provided, Peschel said.
Class size may be limited to 10 students and classes will be held at the Evansville campus.
He said that letters would be going out to parents this week and that he hopes there will be enough participation. There will be five sections, which will be broken down into K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. All students who need the extra help will have the opportunity, he said.
“If we don’t have the participation, then we won’t have the program,” he said.