I am a parent of a student entering into kindergarten this fall in Pillager, and I understand that one kindergarten class was removed and there will be just three kindergarten classes of no less than 22 children each. In addition, I have heard from multiple sources that even if more students enroll, you plan on allowing the class sizes to increase to 23-24 children each or even more. This concerns me and if you’re willing to listen, I would like to respectfully request that you seriously consider adding back the fourth kindergarten class.
First, I want to share that I am a Brainerd High School graduate, and I chose to live in and raise my children in Pillager specifically due to the smaller class size atmosphere. Numerous studies that I have read cite small class size as the single greatest factor to student success. With Pillager now hovering at the 22-24 student mark, I felt more research was needed.
1. I have confirmed that Brainerd schools kindergarten classes in 2012 have an average of 24 students per class. This has me questioning my decision to move to and stay in Pillager, since Pillager now has nearly identical class sizes.
2. I think the following quote from Chuck Arns is also relevant, as this was the article that convinced me that voting for the referendum was the right thing to do. “One of the models Pillager has stayed with and I believe in is small class sizes. It’s been one of the hallmarks for what Pillager stood for,” Arns said.
3. It is also noteworthy that displayed proudly on the home page of the Pillager School website, small class sizes is touted as a core value of the school.
“Pillager is very fortunate to offer the benefits of a small school district: small class sizes, closer connection to teachers and staff, and greater possibility of extra-curricular involvement.”
So now that Pillager has shown a desire to maintain small class sizes, I set out to find the commonly accepted definition of “small class size.” From the following research, small class size is defined differently in each study, but in each case it is less than 20 students per class. And according to this article “…the most reputable and frequently cited study of class size, a ‘small’ class was defined as one teacher with 13 to 17 students.”
I feel sad and frustrated that I voted for a referendum which I was led to believe would help Pillager to maintain the small class sizes that they are known for, only to have class sizes immediately increased. I would appreciate any consideration you can give to this research I have provided, and I hope that you will find a way to make small classes a priority at the school, especially for this critical grade of kindergarten.