Richardson ISD asks state for permission to exceed student-to-teacher ratio in 133 classrooms

Richardson ISD officials announced Oct. 8 a plan to request size waivers for nearly 20% of kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms in the district.

The number of waivers requested is up slightly from last year. In school year 2018-19, the district requested 120 waivers for classes at 26 schools. This year, RISD is asking the state to grant waivers for 133 classrooms at 34 schools.

The campuses with the most waivers requested include Mohawk, Richardson Terrace and Carolyn Bukhair, according to district documents.

Oftentimes, waivers requested represent class sections just one child over the required ratio, said Brenda Payne, assistant superintendent of administrative services. Only a handful represent campuses that have elected to increase their class size to 24 students, which is the absolute maximum, she added.

One of those campuses is Mohawk Elementary School, located in the Reservation neighborhood. Assistant Superintendent Sandra Hayes said she will meet with a parent focus group at Mohawk in late October to discuss demographer projections and capacity plans moving forward.

Understanding the Increase


A recent policy change that prioritizes keeping families together is driving the uptick in waivers, according to Superintendent Jeannie Stone.

In the past, RISD has opted to “overflow,” or move, students to a nearby school when a class exceeded the 22:1 student-teacher ratio required by the state. District policy now indicates a preference to go slightly over capacity in order to keep siblings together at their neighborhood school.

“The fact that we are going to 23 provides a lot of our families stability," Payne said.

The move to waivers as the preferred method for handling capacity problems has caused a decrease in the number of overflows, according Payne. Last year, the district overflowed 347 students. That number has dropped to 289 in school year 2019-20, she said.

Also represented in the overflow figure are students who moved because their sibling was overflowed; in other words, not every student included in last year's total was moved due to capacity issues, Payne said.

The Lesser of Three Evils


The district only has three options when addressing capacity issues, Stone said. It can overflow students, request a waiver or shift attendance boundaries.

Asking the state to grant waivers is perceived by many officials as the least disruptive option for students, said Deputy Superintendent Tabitha Branum.

"If possible, let's keep them at their home school, where they have relationships, where we won't introduce one more opportunity for mobility and regression," she said.

Concerned about the negative affect large class sizes could have on teachers and students, trustee Karen Clardy asked if the district would consider placing an additional teacher's aid in classrooms that are over capacity.

"One or two [additional] students make a difference at these [grade] levels," she said.

Stone and Branum acknowledged that class size waivers are not ideal and may not work for the long term.

"We have challenges in capacity across the district," Stone said. "So at some point, we may have to look at, study and come up with solutions regarding capacity in our buildings."
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

food delivery robot on UT Dallas campus
Food delivery robots launched on UT Dallas campus

The university’s dining department partnered with Starship Technologies to bring 30 food-delivery robots to campus.

Al Baghdady Bakery & Restaurant
Middle Eastern eatery Al Baghdady Bakery & Restaurant to relocate to new Richardson location

The Richardson bakery offers sandwiches, plates, breads and other desserts.

Hair Jones 411 Hair Clinic
Hair Jones 411 to bring natural hair services and restoration to Richardson

Owner Kayla Jones is a licensed cosmetologist and trichologist.

Main Street construction Richardson
City closes Main Street intersection for water line installation

The work is part of the ongoing Main Street redevelopment project.

Edith's French Cafe
Edith's French Cafe delays opening date for Richardson location

The restaurant originally planned to open Dec. 1.

Dentist
Aspen Dental to open Richardson location

The business offers a variety of dental services, including routine care and checkups.

Magnum Choice Insurance Agency
Magnum Choice Insurance Agency coming soon to Richardson

The agency offers a variety of health insurance options.

Richardson pipe rupture
Cause of August 2018 pipeline failure in Richardson reported to City Council

The water district commissioned two independent studies to evaluate the cause of the rupture.

Churroholic churro sundae with fruity pebbles
Hiccups & Churroholic to celebrate grand opening in Richardson on Dec. 5

The innovative concept will include two businesses sharing one space.

Thanksgiving
Here is what Richardson residents should know heading into Thanksgiving

Some city facilities and services will be suspended over the holiday.

Salata
Early 2020 opening set for Salata in Richardson

The restaurant allows guests to customize salads or wraps.

Cake Carosel
Cake Carousel opens in new Richardson location

The cake, candy and cookie supply retailer also specializes in custom, made-to-order cakes and offers classes.

Back to top