How big should our schools be?

The question of closing some of  our underutilized schools has been discussed recently among the commentators.

That raises the question, how many students should the schools be built to accommodate?

We evidently currently have schools that are operating with far fewer students than the schools were designed to handle and as a result are being considered for closure.

Let’s limit the question to our elementary schools for purposes of discussion of this post.

Should the schools be designed to limit the need for buses to carry the children who live more than two miles away from the school to it?

Or should the elementary schools be large and thus potentially enjoy the economic advantages of scale?

Texas does not require our school districts to provide transportation to and from school.  They will however provide financial assistance to school districts that provide transportation as long as the students live two or more miles from the school.

We deserve better

Brutus

23 Responses to How big should our schools be?

  1. Ex small school teacher says:

    The answer is usually gray, not black or white. Some of the disadvantages of a small campus: the kids will be in the same class together year after year. Kids who cannot get along have fewer options, like separating them. And no, they don’t always learn to live with each other. Gets worse when the parents get involved. Speaking of parents you have a smaller pool of parents to volunteer and run events like book fairs, pta, etc. Smaller schools make it harder for teachers to share responsibilities on committees. Teachers have to be on several committees to cover all the campus needs. Each teacher in a grade level (usually 3 teachers) needs to work together to plan and coordinate activities otherwise the kids and teachers will all feel it. The more teachers you have in a grade level the better chance that they can cover for one who is unable or unwilling to work together. The biggest disadvantage of working in a small campus are the rumors that you will be closed each year.
    Advantages – you know every student, parent and their history.

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  2. Sam says:

    Don’t build any more schools. Just repurpose some of the many big retail stores that are being vacated.

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  3. JerryK says:

    Why not ask how big should class size be? Then, crank the numbers backward to get how many classrooms to how many schools.

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    • Anonymous says:

      22:1 for grades K-5 by law in Texas.

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      • Dan Wever says:

        Unless you are a District of Innovation!

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      • Dan Wever says:

        Dan is not as smart as he thinks he is, Let me refresh your posts on this subject.
        Anonymous said: 22:1 for grades K-5 by law in Texas.
        I should have known then that you had no idea what you were talking about when you said K-5 when everyone knows the original law covered only K-4, but I did not call you on your mistake. But I did want you to know that Districts of Innovation are able to skip the step of filing with TEA which is why I replied “Unless you are a District of Innovation.” And you said Nope still 22-1. I gave you the language from the TEA about this subject and showed you what the law really was. But you ignored me again
        Dan they are still required to submit a waiver for all class sizes of 22:1
        You of course WRONG
        And then you write you silly note about me not being as smart as I think I am in which you say “Looks like EPISD is filing waivers as I stated.”
        WHERE DID YOU EVER SAY THAT EPISD WAS FILING WAIVERS AS YOU STATED? YOU NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT EPISD. I WAS TELLING YOU THAT YOUR ORIGINAL STATEMENT OF FILING WAIVERS WAS A STATE LAW WAS WRONG FOR MANY DISTRICTS OF INNOVATION.
        So don’t lose much sleep waiting for an apology, you seem to be an example of the old saying “YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER BUT YOUR CAN’T MAKE THEM THINK! 😊 PS YOU ARE STILL WRONG!!!!

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        • Dan Wever says:

          Anonymous, What no response! I guess one of the benefits of not having a name allows you to continue being a coward and just quit responding when you have been found with you hand in the cookie jar. 🙂

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  4. John Dungan says:

    I think you raise an interesting question. Why the hell do we need for schools – at any level – to be so damn big?! I think that a smaller campus can more easily allow for kids to get more individual attention, and many, who might otherwise get lost in the shuffle, can get a chance to shine, and be better for it in the long run. This has to be a potential win/win for all. And, I think the smaller campus idea, where all the student body can walk to school can help traffic flow all over any city.

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    • Anonymous says:

      As stated in the opening, small schools make for better learning environments, but large school save money; you only need one library, one principal, one cafeteria, one HVAC system, etc… Some elementary schools on the east side are enormous factories but nobody seems to be complaining. EPISD’s small campuses are a legacy of decade of growth; every new neighborhood wanted it’s own little school. We should blame the developers for the current dilemma!!

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    • Great Idea says:

      So since most parents at schools recommend for closure are complaining about having to walk less than a mile to get to a school John are you advocating schools a mile apart? Have you read about schools within schools and small learning communities. Or are you more comfortable with a substantial property tax increase to build your nice small schools?

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      • John Dungan says:

        Great Idea: Are you not at all aware that, in a district such as EPISD, there is no need for more schools, since enrollment has stagnated? And, if we were able to build small schools for a smaller population in the past, why the hell can’t we continue to do so if and when needed now, and in the future? BTW, I did not mention a distance of one mile, did I?

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    • Dan Wever says:

      John Dungan, schools are built according to the demographics of the area at the time. Schools are usually, in El Paso, built too small but trustees don want to risk 10 classrooms being empty for a couple of years. This is caused by school boards not being able to look at data and use it to build properly at a certain time. That is why most of our schools when built required portables within a year or two to manage the number of students.
      Using your logic, of course, is the proper way to go today but it is caused not by building smaller schools but rather the student migration changing. Also, today, everyone understands that “neighborhood” schools are good for the students and parents especially since parental involvement evidently is considered so important in the new Education models.
      Take my Alma Mater, Alta Vista, for example. The EPISD wants to close it because they only have a little over 300 students. These students would go to the 4 closest schools and would, in fact, destroy a complete neighborhood. The district says they would save a million dollars a year which is pure BS. They might save this much money but it would come from cutting employees like custodians, food service, clerks and believe it or not teachers. If you believe the district when they say they will hire the same number of teachers that are being cut from the closing, then you have not been paying attention to the EPISD actions. Closing would destroy the PTA and parent involvement in school activities. Of course, the Run it Like a Business proponents will go nuts and scream and holler, but while watching one pocket the tax hands would be in the other one.
      Concerning High Schools using your idea has of course been implemented with very little success. Bill Gates and his wife spent almost 2 billion dollars trying to make your concept work. The head of his project a few years ago was Tom Vander Ark who the EPISD hired to write their Strategic plan for a few hundred thousand dollars. He, of course, was no longer working for Mr. Gates as the project had been dubbed a failure.

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