Board Considers Policy Change to Allow for Higher Kindergarten Class Sizes

As part of their efforts to provide a full school day to every kindergartner, Loudoun County school leaders are tweaking a policy to give them flexibility to add more students to a handful of kindergarten classes.

The school system’s plan to achieve universal full-day kindergarten, adopted by the School Board in June, states that the maximum kindergarten class sizes could be increased, so long that they still fall below the teacher-student ratios mandated by state law. Virginia Code requires public schools to maintain a 24-1 student-teacher ratio, with no class being more than 29 students; if the average daily membership in any kindergarten class exceeds 24 students, a full-time teacher’s assistant shall be assigned to the class.

Loudoun County Public Schools’ current policy states that a class may have no more than 25 students. The School Board discussed changing that policy to allow for up to 27 students, under only two circumstances. Those are: when staff deems that there is not sufficient classroom space to form a new kindergarten class at the same school; and when the creation of an additional class would result in an average class size at that school of 13 or fewer students.

Every full-day kindergarten class in the county is also staffed with a teacher’s assistant.

“This policy maintains that 25 is still the desired class size but allows those two exceptions,” Superintendent Eric Williams told the board. He noted that this will prevent just one or two students being bussed to a neighboring school for kindergarten. “The same provision would allow us to maximize the number of kindergarten students who can remain at their home school.”

Specifically, this change to the policy language will give school leaders more flexibility to maximize the number of seats at the fairly crowded Creighton’s Corner, Hillside, Lucketts and Mill Run elementary schools, allowing more of those students to attend full-day kindergarten at their home school.

The School Board is scheduled to adopt the policy change as part of its consent agenda Feb. 27.

The school system is expected to provide a full academic day to every kindergartner by this fall. As part of its operating budget for next fiscal year, the School Board included more than $2 million to reach that longtime goal of universal full-day kindergarten. To achieve that goal, at least for one year, about 90 kindergartners at those four crowded elementary schools will be bussed to neighboring schools that have space for a full-day program.

The School Board’s adopted budget now goes to the Board of Supervisors as a funding request.

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