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Trumbull Schools Open with 6,990 Students, 4 Over Projections

Despite Irene, schools opened on Monday with 6,990 students. But school buildings benefited from four extra days of preparation time, and THS opened with additional renovations completed. Parents sought smaller classes for grades near class size maximums

Trumbull Schools Supt. Ralph Iassogna told the Board of Education and an audience of about 25 on Tuesday evening that he was “pleased with the opening of the schools,” and commended the custodial staffs for their efforts.

He said the four additional days Irene gave the system allowed custodial staffs to produce “cleaner buildings and a new level of opening readiness.”

in particular benefited. The kitchen and commons were all ready, the gym floor and bleachers on both sides were installed and ready for use. The second side of the bleachers was scheduled - even as late as one month ago - to be installed in time for the basketball season.

Enrollment on target

The administration monitored opening day enrollment all summer, hoping that not only are system and building totals within budgeted numbers, but also that individual grade levels are within district guidelines and so do not require additional hirings. They succeeded.

Iassogna noted that the actual enrollment was close to projections, and was “the most accurate in memory.”

Total enrollment was 6,990, four students above the projected 6,986. Elementary schools (including ) opened with 3,160 students, seven fewer than projected, middle schools were 1,618, one over, and THS was 2,212, 10 students more than projected.

Parents and Teachers Speak

Several parents and a few teachers spoke during the public comment period about individual grade levels. The two focal points were second grades and fourth grades.  The issue was class size in both cases.

Daniels Farm opened with 76 fourth graders in classes of 26, 25 and 25. Fourth grade guideline is 25 students, so parents sought a fourth section, with all classes at 19 students. 

At Booth Hill, which opened with 89 second graders, parents sought assurance that the five classes would not be reduced to four, yielding one class with one more student than the guideline of 22.

Second grade teacher Julie Rogowski stated that consideration should be given because statistics she presented showed that a high number of these students receive supplementary reading or math support, behavior intervention, or are special education students.

Iassogna said assignments were made in conjunction with parent, teacher and principal’s input to assure that social, emotional and behavioral needs, as well as the academic, are met as well as possible.

Iassogna's Recommendations

He then made recommendations for four schools to the board to address issues of concern to the administration:

  • Kindergarten - Three classes (21, 20, 20) - He recommended staying with the three classes, monitoring, and increasing para-educator time if needed.
  • Daniels Farm First Grade - Three classes of 22 students, and monitor as with Tashua;
  • Daniels Farm Fourth Grade - Three classes (26, 25, 25) - Iassogna recommended adding a 1.0 teacher, yielding four classes of 19 students;
  • afternoon Kindergarten - Two classes (22, 21) - Try to shift students into the three morning classes; and
  • Second Grade - (18, 18, 17, 17, 17) - He recommended eliminating 1.0 teacher and consolidating into four classes (22, 22, 22, 21).

Booth Hill was excluded from the recommendations so that school will retain its five second grade classes.

Lovely concurred with the superintendent, adding, “if the need arises at Middlebrook, we’ll add a teacher back.”

Board member Lisa Labella expressed concern about the elimination of a position “when we’re that close.”  She added “this is counterintuitive, and not a good decision.”

A motion was made to accept all but the last recommendation.  This motion was defeated.

A second motion, to accept the recommendations as presented was made, and approved, four to three, with Lovely and Vice Chairwoman Deborah Herbst and members Loretta Chory and Tom Kelly voting in favor and and members Labella, Steve Wright and Mike Ward voting no.

Kelly said Middlebrook “started with four second grade classes... we remain within guideline... I am mindful of the budget... but we should revisit if enrollment grows.”

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