W-MU combats large class size
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
WINFIELD – How can Winfield-Mt. Union CSD maintain its small class sizes when there are more students than usual in one particular grade level? That was a major discussion topic at the W-MU school board meeting Wednesday night.
“We have a challenging population that is beginning to surface,” said Elementary Principal Gabe Wylder. “So, what do we do about that?”
Wylder informed the board that the second grade class for the 2014-2015 school year is continuing to increase, creating an issue with maintaining small class sizes.
“The numbers in the second grade are increasing,” said Wylder. “This past year was at 21 students and there were some considerable needs in that particular class. I have been watching and I have a little bit of concern in having that large of a class size due to some of the needs in that particular class.”
While Wylder said one of the options he was considering was a combination grade classroom, an option that was not received well by some of the others in attendance.
“Last year, I looked at doing exactly what Gabe (Wylder) is talking about,” said Superintendent Pat Coen. “I was just about pitchforked, tied to the flag pole and burned at the stake. The community feels very strongly that we are a small school and should have small class sizes.
“Our enrollment is good because we continue to do those things,” continued Coen. “It is very important that we maintain that identity. It wouldn’t be maintaining a large class size, it would be about maintaining small class sizes.”
“I don’t think though, based on that one experience you can judge the whole community that way and say that is what will happen,” commented board secretary Carmen Benson.
“There was standing room only,” said Coen about a meeting last year in which a combination classroom was discussed. “I had to have board members leave because we had a quorum. It was pretty clear to me what the community wanted. This is also a temporary issue. Do we get these students through the young, developmental stages and then let them be in bigger classes? There are a lot of things to be discussed.”
“These were just some initial thoughts I was having, and I wanted to get some feedback so that I didn’t come in in August and tell you (the board) that I wanted to do a combination classroom. That’s why I wanted to start the conversation now,” concluded Wylder.
Also during the meeting, the board approved the appointment of Jay Nelson, at-large director, to complete the term of Robin Therme.
Director Klay Edwards was elected to serve as board president, with John Vantiger elected to serve as vice president.
The board also had a work session, during which it was determined an extension was needed for the potential construction project timeline and project. Due to the discussion during the work session and during the regular board meeting, the board tabled the resolution ordering a special election of the issuance of $6,440,000 in general obligation school bonds.