In the past, RISD has opted to "overflow," or move, students to a nearby school when a kindergarten through fourth grade class exceeded the 22:1 student-teacher ratio required by the state. The district now prefers to go slightly over capacity in order to keep families at their neighborhood schools.
Last year, RISD requested class size waivers for 120 class sections at 26 campuses. Those numbers are projected to increase this year, with 137 classes at 31 campuses coming in over the ratio, according to a Sept. 20 presentation by Brenda Payne, assistant superintendent of administrative services.
Payne was careful to point out that the majority of these waivers represent class sections just one child over the required ratio. Only a handful represent campuses that have elected to increase their class size to 24 students.
This policy change has caused a decrease in the total number of overflows seen districtwide, Payne said. So far this semester, 257 students have been overflowed to another school—60 less than had been moved by this time last year.
Also represented in the overflow figure are students who moved because their sibling was overflowed; in other words, not every student included in the total was moved due to capacity issues, Payne said.
Payne also noted that if spaces open up at any time during the school year, families are given the opportunity to come back.
"Most families do elect to return to their home campus," she said.
Staff will return to the board Oct. 8 for approval of the waivers before they are submitted to the state.