Class size, out-of-district pupils in spotlight at district meeting | AspenTimes.com
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Class size, out-of-district pupils in spotlight at district meeting

Eben Harrell
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Members of an Aspen School District task force met with valley residents last night to discuss issues of class size and out-of-district enrollment.

The Choice, Capacity and Class Size Task Force, which is composed of parents, teachers, administrators and students, used the meeting to kick off its deliberations on policy recommendations.

In January, the task force will report to the school board on whether current enrollment trends are pushing schools to capacity and whether restrictions should be placed on the acceptance of out-of-district students.

The meeting began with a presentation of current regulations regarding class size and out-of-district enrollment, along with a presentation of the research the task force has collected since its inception in early October.

In regard to the question of whether out-of-district students are swelling class size beyond acceptable limits, task force members said there is no definitive evidence that smaller classes enhance student performance. Some recent research argues that smaller class size is unrelated to student performance, while others argue the opposite.

The task force also revealed that restricting out-of-district students would have a large financial impact on the school district. Removing all students who choose Aspen schools from another district next year, for example, would cost the school district $2.4 million in state funds.

“I don’t think the task force will recommend to eliminate out-of-district students,” Superintendent Diana Sirko said after the presentation. “But they will consider recommendations regarding certain restrictions on [such] students.”

After the informational session, residents were split into small discussion groups, where they answered questions put to them by the task force. Predictably the question that generated the most discussion regarded possible admission restrictions for out-of-district students.

Many solutions were offered, including the suggestion that children of Aspen teachers and administrators who live out of district should be given priority over other out-of-district kids. A priority was suggested by some for children of workers in Aspen’s public services, such as the hospital.

Laura Kornasiewicz, a member of the task force and newly elected to the school board, said the task force intended to pay close attention to the public’s input.

“The first six hours of meetings for the task force were entirely informational, a chance to familiarize ourselves with the issues,” she said. “After this meeting, we will begin to discuss policy, based primarily on the suggestions of the public here tonight.”

[Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com]


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