Valuable lesson

What is happening between the school boards of Mont Vernon and Amherst is a lesson in cooperation from which everyone can take note.

The two boards are working together to figure out a way to deal with kindergarten class size issues and when we say “working together,” we mean it.

And parents, who are very important to the process, seem to be working in a cooperative manner, too.

Here’s the issue: The Mont Vernon Village School does not have enough students for two kindergarten classes, but too many for just one class.

Amherst’s Clark School expects to have too many kids in its six kindergarten classes.

The potential solution: Get some parents in Amherst to agree to allow their children to go to the Village School in Mont Vernon.

And if a recent meeting in Mont Vernon is any indication, cooperation on all fronts is the operative word, with 100 parents attending a meeting and everyone seemed to want to work toward a solution.

School officials are being very smart about this. Superintendent Adam Steel said unequivically that no Amherst parent will be forced to send a child to Mont Vernon.

“Never in a million years,” Steel said, and that’s as solid a promise as one can get.

Instead, the school districts are hoping some Amherst parents will volunteer to send their kids. Mont Vernon needs at least six children from Amherst and given the way the discussions are going, we feel confident they will get them.

The superintendent’s mantra is class size matters, especially in younger grades, and the Center for Public Education has gone through years of studies and this is what it found:

* Most of the research shows that when class size reduction programs are well-designed and implemented in the primary grades (K-3), student achievement rises as class size drops.

* Smaller classes in the early grades (K-3) can boost student academic achievement.

* A class size of no more than 18 students per teacher is required to produce the greatest benefits.

* A program spanning grades K-3 will produce more benefits than a program that reaches students in only one or two of the primary grades.

Given this data, it only makes sense for Mont Vernon and Amherst to work out their class size issues through the kind of cooperation being discussed.

But parents need to help.

COMMENTS