Class size was the topic of choice for many citizens at the Thursday night Clay County School Board monthly meeting.
"I am not here to question the Clay Community School Corporation," Clay City resident Rob Horton said to the board. "I am here to bring attention to a problem and offer proposals that might be used to solve it."
The problem, a kindergarten class at Clay City Elementary has 29 students in it, with only one teacher.
"It is extreme," Rob said. "I can't think of any one job that would have one person in charge of so many people without any help."
Rob proposed hiring a full-time aid to be in the classroom or using excess classrooms that are not currently in use for transitional classes, that theme continued.
"I come here tonight as a parent," Shakamak first-grade teacher Reesa Horton said. "I don't care how much it cost to provide an education for our children, it is something that needs to be done."
Reesa went on to talk about how smaller classes allow teachers to help students to succeed and it allows children to receive a better education.
"The ideal class size is 13-17 students, especially in the younger grade levels," Reesa said. "Research shows that students in smaller classes are more likely to graduate on time and not as likely to drop out."
Patrons continued to give suggestions to board members.
"I am a parent of a kindergartener that is in a class of 29 students," Clay City resident Shelly Hiatt said. "I would encourage the board to sit in the classes and get an idea of the level of work that goes into the management of so many students especially if they are 5 or 6-years-old."
Throughout the speeches, optimism was still at the forefront.
"I ask the board to be proactive and not reactive," Hiatt said.
The Clay City Elementary PTO was represented in speaker Shelly Ream.
"The PTO ask that a cap be put on class size, to allow students to not fall through the cracks," Ream said. "The current overcrowding in the classrooms is not a positive environment for learning and that needs to be changed."
Suggestions made by the PTO included:
* Kindergarten-first-grade -- 20 students
* Second-third-grade -- 24 students
* Fourth-sixth-grade -- 26 students
Yet again, the optimism flowed with Ream continuing the "proactive not reactive"
"Wouldn't it be great to be first to place a cap on the number of students in a classroom, and not be a follower," Ream said. "We could be leading the way and setting the standard."
The board followed with the same enthusiasm and positive outlook.
"I appreciate all the comments, and the suggestions made by everyone," board member Ted Jackson said.
Jackson asked Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction Kathy Knust to speak about students who were enrolled in all day kindergarten last year and the results from their testing.
"Though I do not have a report prepared I do know that the kindergarten students who were enrolled last year did amazing on test scores," Knust said. "The larger classes didn't seem to affect the students because we utilized the teacher aides."
Knust also remarked on the surrounding counties and their lack of full-day kindergarten.
"We are fortunate to have full-day kindergarten, some counties in the area still don't because of the funding that is involved." Knust said. "We can fund it, unfortunately the classes are larger."
Board members continued to be positive and welcomed comments from parents, especially when positive proposals were given as well.
"I encourage parents to come to the school board meeting and talk to us," Board Vice President Dottie King "Clay County Schools should be leading the other area schools, not following them."
King was honest though in her explanation.
"We are at a point where we don't have the funding necessary in our general fund, and I don't want it to sound like we are making excuses, we are not, things are very tight right now," she said.
Assistant Secretary Tina Heffner agreed.
"I believe parents should be involved in the meetings and continue to voice their concerns," Heffner said. "Before I was on the board, I didn't come to many meetings and I didn't understand how things worked, now I am informed and involved, I think more parents should be too."
As a parent, board member Terry Barr said she understood the parents' concerns.
"I encourage discussion on this topic, and something should be done, especially the possibility of going into the classrooms for one day." Barr said. "But with the restraints on the general fund, we are trapped."
Board President Brian Atkinson also shared with these sentiments.
"I can identify with other parents. My child is one of 29 other students in one classroom." Atkinson said. "It is frustrating to see classrooms that are not being used and as a board we are looking into ways to make this better, but there is only so much we can do with the constraints in the budget."
Like all the other board members Atkinson also voiced his pleasure with parents involvement.
"Please stay, be involved, and ask questions," he said.
A special session is scheduled for Sept. 15, at 7 p.m., at North Clay Middle School in the Media Center.