Four mothers spoke on issues they had found with Plano ISD’s process for adjusting classroom sizes during the public comment portion of the PISD board of trustees meeting Sept. 3.
The parents were affected by a shift at Stinson Elementary School, where a teacher was moved to another elementary following a change in enrollment numbers at the kindergarten level.
PISD begins planning for enrollment for coming academic years in the spring of each semester, using enrollment projections from demographers and current enrollment numbers as well as internal reviews by the human resources department, according to policy information provided by PISD spokesperson Lesley Range-Stanton.
The district communicates with principals throughout the spring and summer, making teacher adjustments before the school year starts in situations where overstaffing is overly evident at a specific grade level.
“Every effort is made to adjust staffing before school starts, but experience has shown some adjustments, due to fluctuations in enrollment, occur during the first two weeks of school,” Assistant Superintendent for Employee Services Beth Brockman said in a statement.
Enrollment is monitored during the first week of school, and overstaffed campuses are identified and dealt with among human resources, principals and relevant administrators. The district takes into account each campus’s mobility rate, Title I status and the longevity of teachers at the affected grade level. The district lists placing teachers at a campus close to their homes and at a similar grade level as a goal when deciding adjustments.
Affected students and parents are notified by principals, and the policy includes a timeline to ensure the teacher has final time with students and to set up in their new classroom.
Stinson mother Molly Martinez expressed disappointment with the timeline for change in her daughter’s classroom.
“We got a letter home on Monday that our kids were going to be in a different class on Tuesday,” Martinez said. “We had like two days to make that transition, and that’s just not acceptable on a number of levels.”
In elementary schools, enrollment is reviewed by a grade-level by grade-level basis, and staff changes in kindergarten through fourth grade are initially based on the 22 students to one teacher ratio, while fifth grade follows a ratio of 26 students for each teacher.
At least one of the kindergarten classes affected at Stinson Elementary changed from 17 to 22 students following teacher reallocation, according to Plano mom Jenna Royal, who has a child with a sensory processing disorder. This change added noise and chaos to his environment, Royal said.
At neighboring Richardson ISD, staff allocations follow a similar policy. The district plans for the upcoming year using projected enrollment numbers and has an administrative team that meets to make adjustment decisions during the first weeks of school depending on actual enrollment, according to information provided by RISD spokesperson Tim Clark.
Frisco ISD, as one of the fastest-growing districts in the nation, has fewer cases of overstaffing than surrounding districts, although teachers are occasionally moved from campuses with lower-than-anticipated or declining enrollment, according to FISD spokesperson Meghan Cone. The district requested a significant number of class-size waivers from the state to exceed the 22:1 student-to-teacher ratio in grades K-4 in the past several years. The district hired more than 200 staff in the last year to reach smaller classroom ratios for the 2019-20 school year.