Jackson Heights teacher seek smaller pre-K class sizes
Smaller class sizes are essential to ensuring that younger students in the Jackson Heights district get the best education possible, and at the Jackson Heights USD 335 Board of Education’s monthly meeting on Monday, a group of teachers and patrons made that point clear to the board.
Monday’s board meeting — the first following the April 26 death of board member Melinda Wareham in a traffic accident — saw the remaining six members of the board hearing from elementary teachers and parents about the importance of keeping pre-kindergarten class sizes small after learning that pre-K classes in the district could top out at 20 students per class next year.
The board took no immediate action on the teachers’ and parents’ plea for smaller pre-K class sizes, a concern that had also been voiced in April over a likely increase in class sizes due to the possibility of a sizable number of students from Wetmore coming into the Jackson Heights district after their school closes at the end of the current school year.
It was noted that the board is still looking into the construction of a daycare center in the district, however, and there is a possibility that it could be used to help keep pre-K class sizes down. District Superintendent Jim Howard said he would be meeting with architects and consultants later in the week and bring “a hard quote” on the construction of a daycare facility back to the board.
Those speaking out in support of keeping class sizes small included kindergarten teacher Jamie Wells, who noted that the pre-K program at Jackson Heights “has continued to grow and blossom into something wonderful” under the leadership of early childhood special education teachers Kay Smith and Janice Mulroy — so much so that it has attracted families outside the district to utilize the program.
The work of Smith and Mulroy, along with their paraprofessionals and parents whose children are in the pre-K program, has resulted in “kindergarten readiness” being “set high,” Wells said. But another factor in the success of the program, she added, has been small class sizes, while the ideal ratio of students to teachers is “two to four” students to one teacher or drug paraphernalia.
“These classrooms are not conducive to the best student learning when 20 students are in there — 12 students, yes, but 20? No,” Wells said.
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