Huge class sizes frustrate students and teachers

Mrs. Boyarski's first period class is overwhelmingly large

By Miles Rosen

With the first month of school over, most teachers have finally learned the names of all their students, and everyone has found a seat that they enjoy for the rest of the semester. But in a class of 37 students, some teachers are stuck trying to figure out which of the three Matthews in their class is the one sitting in the back.

There has been a significant increase in the class sizes at East this year, as many students have realized by now. But compared to the number of students enrolled at East last year, which was around 1510 according to guidance counselor Katy Lipkus, the number of students enrolled for the 2010-11 school year was much lower.

“This year our projection was 1404 students, so we staffed for 1404,” said East principal Eileen Tully. “But we had about 50 more students than we expected and had to staff based on a higher number [of students].”

The huge class sizes tend to be in Social Studies, Science, and English, which are required courses for which enough teachers couldn’t be hired in advance to handle the large number of students.  The district and the administration have already taken action to deal with the situation.

“We’ve added one English teacher,” said Ms. Tully. “And [soon] we’re adding another Social Studies teacher.”

Large class sizes have given teachers much heavier workloads than previous years. History teacher Maureen Galvin finds the larger classes to be a disadvantage to her as an educator as well.

“My ability to teach is impeded by the larger numbers,” Galvin said. “The more students, the more difficult it is to teach and to know the students.” She remarked that her largest class size last year, which was 26 students, is the same size as her smallest class this year.

Students have a similar opinion of large class size being a drawback.

“You get less done with more people,” junior Will Holub-Morman said. “The teacher probably doesn’t even know everyone’s name.”

Teachers report feeling that they don’t have enough time to give individual attention to students, and Holub-Morman agrees this is true.

“With this many students, you get a lot less attention from the teachers and less advice from them as well,” Holub-Morman said.

To help with this, the school has been busy trying to hire a new teacher to lighten the class loads. But when this happens, there will be a major schedule change for many underclassmen. Lipkus said that the procedure is incredibly complicated.

“We try to minimize the amount of classes changed,” said Lipkus. “But some students will have three or four classes changed around.”

The process for shifting schedules is difficult, and even Principal Tully agrees that it will be a while before the school is done with these alterations.

“It’s a multi-faceted puzzle,” Ms. Tully said.  “And it takes a long time for our counselors to figure it out.”

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