In recent months, the district has devoted additional funding to lower secondary class sizes for the new school year. In May, the school board unanimously approved $1.8 million to hire an additional 12 teachers -- six for the middle schools and and six for the high schools -- over the next two years. This was on top of seven new middle school teachers and three high school teachers already included in the 2016-17 budget.
At both high schools, this funding has been used to "split" unusually large classes into two smaller classes -- for example, a class of 38 is split into two smaller sections, the high school principals said.
Former JLS Middle School Principal Sharon Ofek said JLS, for its part, was able to create an entire new academic "team," as well as add electives and physical-education classes.
Gunn also used additional funding to expand its Small Learning Community (SLC) program. SLC students share the same English, world history and science teachers together in a cohort. The program has historically been limited to about 25 students; Gunn was able to add a second section this year to double its size, Principal Denise Herrmann said.
Paly Principal Kim Diorio said she also used the funding to lower class-size averages in science, world language, history/social science, English and math. A former assistant principal who was responsible for the complex crafting of Paly's master schedule for many years, Diorio said class averages today are much better than around 2008, when money was tighter and classes were as large as 32 to 36 students.
"From my perspective, class-size averages continue to decrease year after year and next year, they will be the lowest we've seen in school history, which is good news considering our growing enrollment," she told the Weekly.