WCCS works to keep class sizes at peak levels

COLUMBIA CITY — Officials at Whitley County Consolidated Schools have been crunching numbers since last year, trying to ensure the teacher-to-student ratio is manageable in each classroom.Superintendent Dr. Patricia O’Connor presented to the corporation’s Board of School Trustees on Monday a report on classroom size for all five elementary schools, the middle school and high school.“We studied this issue last year, conducting three months of research,” O’Connor said.O’Connor said a class size taskforce was created to study the issue.Following the research, O’Connor said the class size recommendations were made to the school board.According to O’Connor, the classroom sizes were created based on projections made before the announcement that Indiana schools would feel the sting of the slumping economy which resulted in decreases in funding at schools statewide in 2010.“Of course this was all based on a normal year, not a year where we had budget cuts,” O’Connor said.The superintendent said the taskforce geared the smallest classroom sizes for those at the elementary schools.“The research said we’d need smaller numbers at the lower grades and as (the students) get older, class sizes could be larger. But, this was not a normal year,” she said.“I was able to get most of the classes within the targets.”The hit to pocketbooks around the state created challenges in school districts throughout the Hoosier state. However, O’Connor said, public schools still had to conduct business.Last year, the corporation cut a media specialist at the primary and middle school level.“We tried to make cuts as far away from the classroom as possible,” O’Connor said.“I think we must try to keep our eyes on class size and not overload any subject or any grade level if we can help it.“I think our classroom sizes, when you compare them to other districts, are probably at optimal levels.”