Kindergarten swells, but other grades have more elbow room
Enrollment continues to climb in the Menlo Park City School District, as another big wave of kindergartners is set to flood classrooms in the fall.
A tough budget year, as well as limited space due to campus construction, means classrooms will be more crowded. But in some grades, class sizes will stay relatively small, according to district projections presented at the May 12 school board meeting.
The district is set to have a total of 16 kindergarten classrooms at its three elementary school campuses, with an average of 23 children per class.
However, in the first, second and third grades, classrooms are projected to be a bit smaller, with 21 or fewer children. In grades 4-8, the district is planning for classes that range from 22 to 26 students, with the biggest classes in Oak Knoll's fourth grade.
"These are very decent class sizes in this environment," said Superintendent Ken Ranella at the board meeting.
In previous years, primary grade classrooms were kept to 20 students, thanks to state class size reduction grants.
This year, because restrictions on the grants were loosened by the state, district officials authorized larger classes in order to save money. While the Menlo Park district has avoided sending out pink slips to teachers, it also isn't hiring more teachers, even though enrollment is growing.
Total enrollment in the district's four schools — Hillview Middle School and Encinal, Laurel and Oak Knoll elementary schools — is currently 2,411 students. For the next school year, enrollment is projected to climb to nearly 2,580. As board member Laura Rich noted, that's enough to push Menlo Park out of the state's "small" school district category for districts of fewer than 2,500 students.