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Nearly 500 new students join District 308, District Attempts to Keep Classroom Sizes Balanced

The AYP scores and resulting failure of six schools in the district open up Choice options as well.

When the Fiscal Year 2013 budget was announced with a $5.5 million deficit at the , that number was riding on the assumption that there were 17,561 students enrolled in District 308.

Superintendent Matthew Wendt announced at the August 27 board meeting that number has now inflated to 17,739 students and that nearly 500 new students have joined the district. District 308 is expecting to see enrollments through August and even potentially past Labor Day.

With the increase in students, the district is working to keep classrooms balanced.

Wendt said there are highs and lows in class sizes across the district, but in terms of core classes at the junior high level they are trying to keep those lower.

For example, across all five junior highs, the average class size for mathematics and language arts is 23. But at the new Murphy Junior High classes are closer to 21 students and at Thompson classes are closer to 28 students.

“Non-core classes will tend to have smaller class sizes,” said Wendt, of subjects like art or foreign languages.

At the elementary level, the district has elementary classrooms with 29 or more students. Some schools, like Homestead and Churchill, have seen classes of up to 33 students while other schools cap out around 26 or so students. Wendt said the classrooms were not designed for classes of those size.

Wendt said the incoming enrollments are causing elementary class sizes to become larger and the Board should anticipate the averages changing.  “We’ll need to have a dialogue soon about the schools that are in the 30 plus range,” said Wendt.

One solution Wendt proposed for future thought is taking new students moving into the district and placing them in schools where the class sizes are a lower average.

Other students are moving around as well due to the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) report that has marked six schools within the district as having failed for a second time and are now required to offer Choice.

The schools that did not make AYP for a second year, and are required to offer Choice include: Boulder Hill and Long Beach Elementary Schools, Traughber, Plank and Thompson Junior Highs and Oswego East High School. However, since Oswego High School also did not make AYP students at East cannot transfer over.

Kristine Liptrot, Director of Communications, said based on the number of affected students, a very low amount have chosen to switch to a different school. “Typically what parents look for is the reason why the school didn’t may AYP and if their child was affected.”

So far 39 students have opted to switch to another school due to Choice.

The final deadline for parents to switch their children’s schools using Choice is August 28 for some and August 29 for others, depending on when they received their letter alerting them to the AYP status.

Director of District Student Services Christine Nelson said of the children switching schools, so far only 4 students are not able to be accommodated using an existing bus route in the area. She said the district will search for other transportation options, including the possibility of taxi cabs.

Martin August 29, 2012 at 05:21 PM
LSJ...you must be talking about Southbury where 308 placed most (all) of its daylong Kindergarteners. One of my boys was over there last year and at his 'home' school this year for 1st grade.
Missing34 August 29, 2012 at 09:48 PM
"When they guessed wrong on where growth would be ( and the state of the economy) you got Southbury and Murphy sitting empty" Southbury is empty? Where have my kids and wife been going for the past 5 years. Someone has some 'splaining" to do. However, we have had some growth in just our neighborhood alone. O'donnell moved out and two young children moved in that house, another family moved out and 2 more kids moved in there and we have 5 houses currently under construction and that's just in our section of Southbury.
JimmyJ August 29, 2012 at 09:54 PM
@Missing34...you know I've been here so long you'll have to forgive me if I don't remember every detail to it's gory specifics. Southbury did not open when it was built. It did sit unused until they decided to close East View and shift those students there. Murphy sat empty for 2 years.
JimmyJ August 29, 2012 at 09:58 PM
As far as growth in Southbury...you are right...those townhouses on Lakeshore Drive...or maybe it's the set farther down the ones that sat with their tyvek flapping in the breeze for a year or more were finally finished off..not sure I'd buy one knowing how long they sat exposed but then again I don't sell real estate. Banks are putting some of the older foreclosed stuff on the market. There is some building in the area too so maybe it will even out.
Missing34 August 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM
East View and Southbury were open at the same time for at 3 years. Southbury only sat empty for maybe a year, but I think it opened the fall after it was completed. They considered not opening it, but decided to leave Hunt Club empty for a year instead. Point is understood however.
JimmyJ August 30, 2012 at 01:34 AM
@ Missing...yeah this one that one whats the difference. Dr. Behlow wanted two things...Early Childhood Center and Administrative Center. You got me thinking and I think what happened was Southbury opened below capacity, then they started the all day kindergarten and that was over there, then they closed East View and moved them there and made it an admin center, now it's all day Kindergarten I think plus admin? Hard to keep track. Hunt Club...yep that;s the one I was thinking of....anyways....
russ harrison August 30, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Pull out your old class photos from the 60's and 70's folks. Count how many students there were in those classes. Then compare that standard to today. Since US education systems have been participating in the "Dumbing of America" (you know, open book open note tests, no memorization of logarithms and tables, 90% of students on the "honor roll", etc.) why should a class size of 30-32 students make any difference? Wasn't that the standards long ago and didn't students seem to achieve just as good (or bad, depending on your view) an education? I am curious as to how many people over 40 believe that they received a better education than our kids do today...and why.
John Spasojevich August 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Russ I believe I did and I'm a product of the Chicago public schools in the 1970's and 1980's. We always had 30 to 35 kids in class. Also there was no such thing as a teacher aide in K-8 I think teachers worked harder then and they had more leeway to discipline a student in class than they do today.
Martin August 30, 2012 at 12:17 PM
John...Russ.... I went to multiple districts in multiple states in the 70s\80s. The average sizes were right around 30. My 4th grade class peaked at 48 kids before the school split us into two classes, which peaked at 29 an 28 by Thanksgiving. Heck I remember hearing about, seeing, and finally receiving corporal punishment.... 5 wacks from a paddle by the vice principal. She was built like a brick house and boy did it hurt.
Oswego Resident August 30, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Russ, I would say that my public school education (from upstate NY) was not really any better than what my kids got in 308. It was different, that's for sure, but not better, per se. We didn't have air conditioning and we went to school until well into June. Talk about miserable learning conditions. We had to memorize tables and figure out natural logarithms the old school way. Did it mean anything to me at the time, or ever since? Not really. Calculators were introduced when I was in college a few years later on, and since then, I've never given the old method another thought. Has anyone? School to me was about the learning process and not so much about the actual stuff or the method of memorizing that stuff. And I think today's kids are learning new ways to acquire the same knowledge or methods to get to the same endpoint. Oh, and it's still vitally important today, just as it was in my day, that the home environment supports the school work and the student. Probably even more so, if I think about it. That may be what has changed more so than the actual schooling itself. Lack of a mom at home, family meal time, after school activities etc.. all contribute to the issue.
Missing34 August 30, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Once again Jimmy your point was taken and I get it, however, when Southbury opened it included the all day kindergarten from day 1.
JimmyJ August 30, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Oswego Resident, here's a bit of insight into the changes in 308, my kids seem to have hit right during "changes". When my oldest ( OHS Class of 2006) was at Boulder Hill there was no weekly test on spelling words like we used to have. By JHS she was getting marked down for poor spelling on reports. When my youngest went to BH 6 years later...what do you know...weekly spelling. When my youngest was in 4th grade he was given multiplication table to take home and memorize as homework because as the teacher said " we don't teach memorization of facts anymore". The following year what was 4th grade doing? Memorization of times tables in class. We put out youngest in a private school starting in 6th grade and the teacher there was astounded that he has not memorized multiplication. My problem with 308 is that there is to much empsasis on "new" perhaps trying to find the answer to the ever popular question of why Johnny Can't Read or as proof they are trying to meet their NCLB goals by teaching to the test, and if you don't think they teach to the test...think again. I have a good friend who teaches at OHS and is one of the few teachers not to give out a "packet" the "packet" is essentially all of the quizzes and tests so the students can study for the answers in advance.
Ralph August 30, 2012 at 01:12 PM
When I went to school we had to walk, uphill, bothways....in the snow.
Oswego Resident August 30, 2012 at 01:56 PM
JimmyJ It appears we were at the same graduation ceremony in 2006. My kids started school on the East Coast and didn't join 308 until Old Post opened in 1997. 2nd and 4th grade I think. Perhaps they had a great foundation from back East, but other than that both of my kids did okay in school. They had excellent and not so excellent teachers at all levels. One graduated from OHS and the other from OEHS. One finished college and the other, well, perhaps one day... Both of them struggled at some point, but it was never supposed to be easy the whole time. That's what I meant by the process of learning and the involvment of the family in the process. Needless to say, one of them is now a teacher in D308. So i am getting a lesson in how the system works, from the inside.
Logansdad August 30, 2012 at 02:11 PM
How do you know Logan isn't grown up already?
Logansdad August 30, 2012 at 02:13 PM
John, I understand what you are saying, but you would be paying taxes toward the school district no matter where you live in Illinois. If you don't like it, you would have to get lawmakers to change the way education is funded. BTW, we all pay taxes for things we do not use or like.
Paul L. August 30, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Don't get me started on Everyday math. It took 10 years for the former adminstration to say Block was wrong by changing direction again and going to flex 8. I wish they'd look at EDM the same and I would hope with core standards being changed in 2014, that would be a great time to change it.
Martin August 30, 2012 at 05:04 PM
What's the problem with Block classes, its how most colleges work and we're supposed to be prepping the HS kids for college, aren't we? Of the 8 classes my OEHS Freshman took last year, Block was a disaster for 1 of the classes, the rest worked fairly well. We're hoping this year will be better, mainly from lessons learned last year...not because Block is gone.
Martin August 30, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Ralph....that's funny. :) Its even true for me. The HS were at the bottom of a ridge...I lived just over a mile away on the other side at the bottom of the ridge. Walked every day for 4 years.
JimmyJ August 30, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Martin...where you been?? Block has been one of the biggest points of discussion almost as long as it's been implemented. You either seem to love it or hate it. I'm not fond of it. The issue we had personally was that our freshman had algebra, then no math in sophomore and then geometry in junior and none in senior as a consequence she had to take a remedial course at Waubonsee. To us that was wasted time and money. The Block allows more time for electives and in my view electives are not what high school is for. On the other hand Aurora Central Catholic runs on a 4 block schedule, BUT I believe in that 90 minutes, there is more instruction than in D308. the other thing the block does is cut passing periods, teachers like it as there is less hall supervision needed, administrators like it because it provides a certain amount of "lock down", less opportunity for things to happen. Many of the teachers, my friends at OHS included who just love it are elective class teachers, cut electives, there goes jobs.
JimmyJ August 30, 2012 at 06:03 PM
@Paul...AMEN! you know they looked at changes to EDM and even ran a test of other math systems what, about 3 or 4 years ago and went with a new version of EDM, now I heard there were some issues with the committee and how it was directed, but knowing folks here like only facts and figures backed up by links, I'll not say more ;-) @Martin....the problem is that 2+2 is still 4 regardless of who is superintendent or who is on the board, the problem is that it seems every year or two years we have to have some major revelation in education and it always costs a lot of money. So now we end the experiment of 4 block and start the experiment of 8 flex. meanwhile JHS runs on a "traditional" schedule, but back a nimber of years ago 6th grade ran under the "middle school concept" and 7th and 8th ran traditional. Enough experiments.
JimmyJ August 30, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Oh yeah....I went to Lane Tech in Chicago in the late 70's. That was 2 miles from home. There was no school bus service, every school was a walking school except for the ones they were trying to racially balance. So we took the CTA. I took the CTA 4 days a week because I was in the ROTC and Wednesday was the day we wore our uniforms and if people think there is bullying today...wear an army uniform on a bus full of kids in 1979...rat on toasted cheese...raper of tiny children...royal order of toilet cleaners...you name it we got called it. We didn't snivvle about it we sucked it up and carried on. But on Wednesday I did start walking home...it was a little more peaceful..2 miles in the snow in a dress uniform lugging a trombone...
JimmyJ August 30, 2012 at 06:13 PM
One of mine finished at Benedictine and the other at Lewis Romeoville as a dual major Psych and Secondary Ed and is a HS teacher not in 308 and I get lots of inside stories too. All I can say is anyone who puts their kid on the bus or drops them off and does little else is making a big mistake. You have to watch and be involved. I am fortunate that my work schedule is pretty much built around the school schedule with few exceptions so I was able to keep tabs on what was happening.
Martin August 30, 2012 at 06:46 PM
JimmyJ....My eldest just started HS, that's where I've been...got two more working their way up through K-8. You are entirely correct. High school is not about electives. We told OEHS off when working on my eldest classes for this year. We were told by the 'guidance' people that two years of math and no foreign languages were needed, just fill up on electives like band (my kid is musically deaf), Driver's Ed (at $200), and other relatively useless things. My wife spent 4 hours the Monday before school started sitting in the scheduling office arguing about the fact certain classes were agreed upon and by the school and district, to only have them not on my kid's schedule.
JimmyJ August 30, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Martin, sorry I was being a little sarcastic....well you are finding out what I've known and experienced. In my view the "guidance counselors" are as useful as a wheelbarrow without the wheel. Now I have not always been this ornery I used to be a nice person. But when I went in to see my kids counselor and when she found I disagreed with her ( that's one thing I have found across the board, once anyone in D308 finds out you see through their smokescreens...you get their real attitude), she launched into the usual story most educators cop when you disagree with them, it goes like this. "I know your child and I'm pretty sure I know what's best" Sorry, but you can go to hell guidance counselor. The kicker to that story is that this particular counselor at OHS told me the reason she knew what was best was because she has been my kids teacher in JHS. Ok lady...you had my kid for a 50 minute class 3 years ago, actually this was her junior year so more like 5 years ago..and you know my kid. You gotta be kidding me. I got up and went across the street and saw Dr. Behlow, he picked up the phone and there was no more problem. In fact I don't think that "counselor" is there anymore. Go have to fight these people tooth and nail..because remember THEY know what's best for YOU.
Martin August 30, 2012 at 07:05 PM
JimmyJ, I knew you were being sarcastic. :) All is good. We've been fighting with the school district over my eldest since Kindergarten. Undiagnosed ADHD and the school not wanting to work with us over it. And when we got the diagnosis, the LD\BD leader refused to acknowledge it. Luckily a very gifted Principal offered help during a meeting that my wife took. The LD\BD director looked like he was going to crap all over himself at the thought. We took it and pulled my kid 3 days later. Two years of homeschooling and a complete change in the LD\BD program, she's back in regular school, thriving and enjoying most days.
JimmyJ August 30, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Martin, sounds like we have been on the same road. We made the mistake of going along with them and when I sat in on the ld class and found they were 4 lessons back from the regular class in the same books we took him out and that was a battle. So he attends StPaul in aurora. I don't recall bis sisters reading things like east of eden or heart of darkness as required reading their whole time in d308 but they are required in 8th grade here. Probably too old school. So much for the ld designation. They are way too quick to lable but that's how the spec ed co op survives..gotta have kids to bill for!!
Leland H. Hoffer September 01, 2012 at 06:50 PM
JimmyJ, I don't where you came up with using my name, (on Aug. 29), that I would say a feeder system will not work in a real world. My position is that a feeder system is the most logical system and although not perfect will work well provided there is planning to properly locate schools and their boundarys. The planning begins before developement construction with coordination of local governments to insure proper location of schools. Unfortunately, although I encouraged D308 administrations to coordinate on local conceptional plans there was little effort and locating school sites were not obtained in the best locations. Paul Lark and I both advocated an additional elementary and a Jr. High on the North-West side of the river but it was completely ignored. Boundaries do have to be changed at times to balance enrollmnets and the boundary decisions have to be begin at the elementary schools level because they are the basic block of the system. Changing boundaries starting with the Jr. Highs or High Schools to establish boundaries only leads to futue problems and explains why boundaries have been problimatic in D308. If you want the entire history give me a call.
JimmyJ September 01, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Perhaps I misunderstood your comments, I heard them some time ago so my memory must not have recalled them correctly. The system as it stands now while it functions, does not function as it could because it was, if not poorly planned, planned not as it should have been. Would that be a fair comment?
Leland H. Hoffer September 02, 2012 at 03:19 AM
There certainly was misunderstanding because I have never said that a feeder system would not work. The system has not operated as it should because of lack of planing for location of schools and poor decisions on drawing proper boundaries starting with the elementary schools. Recent school locations have been a result of what was left available instead of planned in cocept plans. Bouindaries have been decided not on what was logical but what some wanted and normally after the boundaries should have been adjused.

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