30 Students In One First Grade Class - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

30 Students In One First Grade Class

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WILTON, IA – School enrollment and budget cuts are forcing Wilton Community School Districts to reduce the incoming first graders from three classes to two.

Sara Shirk is grew up going to Wilton schools. She now has three kids following in her footsteps. “When I found out this year that Mason and his three kindergarten classes are being combined into just two first grade classes, my heart sank.”

She says these early years are important to a child’s education.

Superintendent Joe Burnett says 61 first graders are enrolled for the fall. This puts 30 students in one class and 31 in the other.

He says this number seems large for one classroom, but that is why they will have para-educators in the classes as well. The two para-educators assigned are both licensed teachers.

“With the number of people that we have licensed, four, with 61 students, the ratio is 15 or 16 to 1. I would put that number against any classroom in the state,” says Burnett.

That still doesn’t sit well with Sara and other concerned parents. They want the district to add another first grade class and have an average of 20 students per class, which is the Iowa state average.

Shirk says her concerns go beyond the student to teacher ratio, it stems into distractions in the classroom. “In a normal class of 20 students, there almost always are one or two students that are disruptive and misbehave,” she says, “when you put 12 more in the classroom, you risk having three or four.”

She says this distraction may keep the children from getting the kind of education that she got growing up in Wilton. “It disheartens me because I feel like Wilton students deserve the same quality of education and a chance at learning as everyone in our area and across the state.”

Superintendent Burnett says the two teachers will lead the class and the para-educators are there to assist wherever is needed, including teaching with groups of students.

If Wilton’s first grade enrollment increases to 65 students, Burnett says they will look into hiring another teacher for a third classroom. Right now, they are four students shy of that goal.

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