Assistant Superintendent Brenda Payne said the decision to exceed the state ratio cap is made at the campus level.
“The state has recommended that [cap] because they see that as the optimum student-teacher ratio,” Payne said. “But they also recognize that in some cases, it's better to keep the child there versus sending them [to a different school].”
When the decision is made to keep the 22:1 student-to-teacher ratio, Payne said students are sometimes moved to the nearest school with space. She said 228 RISD students were transferred for that reason this year.
“That's for one year, in hopes that they would return when space became available on the home campus,” Payne said, noting some of that number includes multiple siblings who moved to the new school to keep families together. “In most cases, the family wants the whole family to go together, and we encourage that.”
The 35 class-size exceptions requested by the district are for 16 of its elementary campuses. Stults Road, O. Henry and Brentfield elementary schools had the most exception requests with four each, while seven other campuses had just one request.
Payne said RISD would have needed 126 exceptions last year, but none were required because of the pandemic.
Superintendent Jeannie Stone said she was happy to see so few class-size exceptions for the district this year.
“[Our principals] don't want to send their kids away,” she said. “They know it’s best for them to stay at their home school so that they can play with their friends ... and not be potentially put on a bus to pass by their home school to go to another school, potentially even across a freeway.”