Unionville-Chadds Ford School District discusses enrollment increases

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District School Board met to discuss class sizes. (Candice Monhollan)

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District School Board met to discuss class sizes. (Candice Monhollan)

Parents of students in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District expressed concern over class sizes last week, and the topic was the main priority at the district’s curriculum and educational technology meeting Oct. 14.

Pocopson Elementary School has more students now than ever, and this is the first year the district has had an increase in student population after a three-year drop of more than 100 students.

Typically, the district uses a guideline of 23 students to one teacher for kindergarten through second grade, then a ratio of 26 to one for grades three through five.

Clifton Beaver, principal of Unionville Elementary School, said his school is coping by using a middle school strategy whereby certain teachers take on an additional class and separate the students to allow for more individual attention.

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“We are able to keep the third-graders in relatively small class sizes in language arts and math,” Beaver said.

In essence, the students are in four classes of roughly 20 for half the day then in classes of 26 or 27 for the other half, which is mostly the sciences and social studies.

The district is already looking forward to next year as well with a large third-grade class moving onto fourth, and the idea of adding a fourth class is a possibility.

Despite the large student population at the elementary level, it’s the seventh- and eighth-grade classes that are the biggest in the district.

The seventh-graders currently enrolled at Charles F. Patton Middle School number 362, and the eighth-graders come in at 365, whereas the sixth-grade population is at the normal size of 315, said Principal Tim Hoffman.

The class size numbers are running right along where educators had planned with the common core courses.

In core math, the district wanted smaller sizes to give the students more help, and they achieved this with roughly 17 students per class compared to 26 in regular math.

“The trend goes through special areas as well,” Hoffman said. “The class sizes there are right in line with what we would hope for, and a lot of it depends on work station size.”

Unionville High School is running with 299 students in ninth grade, 325 in 10th, 342 in 11th and 339 in 12th, said Principal Paula Massanari.

The class sizes in the high school are about 25 students in academic subjects, with class sizes being lower in some of the sciences and any classes requiring a lab or work station, while gym classes are larger.

The high school is also preparing for February, when students begin to express their interest in certain classes. Officials will determine which ones must be canceled then because of having fewer than 15 students signed up.

Two classes that suffered that fate this year were yearbook journalism and accounting.

Massanari offered a statistical example of what a typical ninth-grade class would look like right now.

“In social studies there would be roughly 20.5 (students),” Massanari said. “In English around 20, in biology 21.2, in geometry in 24, and in Spanish there would be 24.8.”

With the changes made in the elementary schools, the larger class size situation has been handled, and officials are looking at ways to improve next year.

The projected enrollment data from the school district shows a decrease of roughly 30 students total, and each school should see a decrease, except for Pocopson, which is projected to go up 75 students.


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Categories: Education

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