Elementary Class Sizes Down
When it comes to class sizes, Big Lake Schools continues to fulfill its levy promise made to taxpayers in 2015. The promise was to reduce class sizes or improve staff-to-student ratios in grades or subjects of greatest need—and the district has done just that.
Class size at the elementary schools was quickly identified as an area of greatest need—by both parents and staff—after the levy passed, and has continued to be the primary focus. Before the operating levy took effect, the average class size in kindergarten through fifth grade was 27 students—fifth grade had the largest class size at 33 students, and kindergarten had the smallest at 21. Now, in the current school year, the average class size is 23 students—third grade has the largest class size at 26, and kindergarten has the smallest at 20. Overall, class sizes have shrunk by about four students.
“We are grateful to the community for our current operating levy,” said Superintendent Westerberg. “It is the only reason we have been able to maintain our staffing levels and achieve our low class sizes.”
Improving class sizes isn’t the only levy promise the district has kept—it has followed through on all of its academic promises. The following are items the district said it would accomplish if taxpayers approved the operating levy in 2015: preserve current staffing levels and academic programs, improve class sizes, add career pathways at the high school, add robotics, and improve academic offerings.
All of these promises have been met. No cuts have been made to staff or programs, class sizes are significantly lower, career pathways have been added at the high school, and robotics was added as an afterschool activity. Additionally, academic offerings have been greatly improved through the addition of three reading interventionists; Project Lead the Way curriculum has been expanded at the high school and middle school, and added to Independence Elementary; and STEAM curriculum has been added at Liberty Elementary School.
“We continue to use the majority of the operating levy revenue to maintain current staffing levels and academic programs,” Westerberg said. “Any revenue not going to general operations, we put towards fulfilling items on our academic priority list the public helped create back in 2015.”