About a dozen parents at Monday night’s Mattituck-Cutchogue Board of Education meeting requested a section in kindergarten, first and second grades be reinstated.
Due to declining enrollment, the district downsized this past school year from four classes in each grade to three. There are still four sections in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades.
Parents urged the board to reconsider the decision, saying students would benefit from smaller class sizes in four sections.
“Since January, parents have been voicing their concerns about the large class size in kindergarten,” Mattituck resident Jennifer Anderson said. “Many community parents and residents have come together to request keeping the classes small. We want our students to have the numerous daily and long-term benefits that small classes provide.”
She went on to say that research shows students in smaller classes have higher student achievement, increased performance on standardized tests, higher grades in all subjects and a higher graduation rate. She said that over 60 parents signed a petition asking the Board of Education to reinstate the sections in kindergarten, first and second grade.
Other parents agreed, adding that smaller classes offer the students more quality time with teachers. They added that larger classes, such as those with 22 students like ones their kindergarteners were in last year, become more about crowd control, making it difficult for students to get the academic, social and emotional learning they need at a young age.
“I’m curious what you will do for our children,” said Karly Lucarelli of Mattituck. “What’s best for them is smaller sizes. Just because New York State standards is 25 [students a class] doesn’t mean that’s us.”
Board president Charlie Anderson thanked those in attendance for speaking and sharing their concerns, and announced that the board was approving hiring a new kindergarten teacher — adding a fourth section to the grade and making class sizes about 15 or 16 students for the upcoming school year.
The first and second grades will remain at three classes each, but will be closely monitored over the summer to see if enrollment numbers should cause that to change.
“I just want to say thank you for [sharing] how you feel. We do take everything into consideration,” he said. “I don’t want to minimize what you’re saying and what you feel, but we do have to think of everybody in the district and unfortunately a lot does come down to budget and money. We could have a meeting here and twice as many people would complain about their taxes going up.”
Superintendent Anne Smith said there are currently 55 students enrolled in first grade and 62 students enrolled in second grade for the 2018-19 school year.
She added that in addition to the classroom teacher there is a literary specialist dedicated to working with first graders, a math specialist being added for first and second graders, teaching assistance in each class and more support for students.
Parents said they were pleased to hear that a kindergarten section would be added, but still wanted four sections in the first and second grades and asked the board to reconsider.
“If you want to gamble go to Vegas,” Ms. Lucarelli said. “Don’t gamble on my kid.”
Photo caption: Jennifer Anderson of Mattituck. (Credit: Nicole Smith)