Early numbers show class sizes continue to grow in Arlington Public Schools. Preliminary figures show an additional 179 students district-wide over last falls numbers. The increase is in line with a forecast completed for the town after a jump in student numbers a couple of years ago. School Superintendent Kathleen Bodie told school committee members September 14th that the biggest problem with the increase is balancing the number of students in each classroom. Some elementary school classes have 19 students while others have up to twenty-five. Bodie points to possibly revising buffer zones to keep classes and schools balanced. School Committee member Cindy Starks says as a teacher herself, the class sizes are getting too big particularly at the elementary level. Click here to view class size data
The district has hired additional staff to help with the increase, including full-time teaching assistants for larger kindergarten classes that normally have part-time assistants. Final enrollment numbers will be out in November. A link to the data and staffing levels is here.
Schools work to correct problems cited by the state
The district is working to correct areas of education the state says its non-compliant in. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education say Arlington Public Schools need to correct over a dozen issues dealing with special education, civil rights, and English language learners. The department of education reviews schools every six years, in June it found the Arlington schools lacking in areas ranging from getting students special services in a timely manner to making sure new hires are trained on the school’s anti-bullying policy. The school committee and staff recently debated the severity of the issues. The school has a plan of correction that must be handed over to the state by next June. The school committee wants a progress report much sooner asking for it to be delivered in December.
Public safety pay is up, but town administrative pay is down in comparative analysis
Arlington public safety workers are being paid better but pay for administrators within the town is lagging behind. A new study commissioned by the Town of Arlington says Public Safety pay is up compared to other nearby communities. Just a few years ago the town was lagging behind. The study looked at base pay and benefits for all town employees and compared the data to nearly a dozen other similar communities as they have in years past. Representatives of HRS consulting found the base bay for police officers is within 10 percent, fire-fighter pay is within three percent and teachers are being paid anywhere between 1 percent below to 14 percent above average compared to the other communities. At the September 25th Board of Selectman meeting Selectman Kevin Greeley asked specifically about teachers. The data consultant saying the town has made strides in some areas but needs work increasing its pay for other town employees.