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Teachers Hired to Shrink Largest Class Sizes

Adding staff to reduce class sizes and support student needs makes big difference for thousands of students

Staffing added this fall at Adams, Arts & Technology Academy, Cal Young, Camas Ridge, Charlemagne, Chinese Immersion, Churchill, Family School, Gilham, Holt, Howard, Kelly, Kennedy, Madison, Monroe, North Eugene, River Road/El Camino del Río, Roosevelt, Sheldon, South Eugene, Spencer Butte, Spring Creek, Twin Oaks

Thousands of 4J students who were slated to be in unusually crowded classes this fall have a better outlook, thanks to the targeted addition of extra teachers. These students have started the school year in much less crowded classrooms than they would have without the added staffing.

After years of school budget cuts, Oregon class sizes are larger than the national average. In Eugene School District 4J, typical elementary class sizes are in the mid-20s. However, the varied number of students in each grade level at a school can lead to very large class sizes or blended-grade classrooms. In addition, school staffing is planned each spring based on projected enrollment, and the actual student enrollment in the fall may be higher or lower than projected. This year, enrollment is higher than expected at many schools.

To help address these class size challenges, the school board and superintendent set aside money in the district’s annual budget to hire teachers and classified staff where they are most needed to reduce class sizes and provide critical student supports. This reserve allows the district to adjust staffing and balance class sizes as much and as soon as possible. Four years ago, there were over 50 elementary classrooms that had more than 30 students the first few weeks of school. This year, we began the school year with fewer than 10 such oversized classrooms.

This fall, the district has dedicated about $3 million to add staffing to reduce class sizes and support student needs. Most of the additions are teachers to shrink the largest class sizes. The additions also include counselor positions and classified educational assistants to support kindergarten classrooms, life skills, and student and family supports.

Staffing has been added where it is most needed across the district, at 11 elementary schools, all 8 middle schools, and all 4 comprehensive high schools.  At elementary schools, adding a classroom teacher reduces class sizes for all students in the affected grade as classes are rebalanced with smaller numbers of students in each room. At middle and high schools, the impact of even a small addition of staffing is widespread, because it takes just a fraction of a full-time teacher to add each course section and reduce class sizes for a large number of students.

Schools that have received additional staffing include:

Elementary Schools: Adams, Camas Ridge, Charlemagne, Chinese Immersion, Family School, Gilham, Holt, Howard, River Road/El Camino del Río, Spring Creek, Twin Oaks
Middle Schools: Arts & Technology Academy, Cal Young, Kelly, Kennedy, Madison, Monroe, Roosevelt, Spencer Butte
High Schools: Churchill, North Eugene, Sheldon, South Eugene

These staffing additions make an enormous difference for the dozens of teachers and many hundreds of students in the affected classrooms and schools. Although there aren’t enough funds available to address all of the oversized and blended classes across the district, the most extreme class sizes have been resolved.

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