MANCHESTER, N.H. – Members of the Manchester Board of School Committee on Monday night learned that approximately 30 percent of the Manchester School District’s classrooms have more students than allowed per the district’s own policy.
Currently, the Manchester School District’s policy on class sizes puts a limit of 20 students from kindergarten to Grade 4, 25 students from Grade 5 to 12 and 24 students in laboratory situations. That policy does not include subjects where class size is not
According to Manchester School District Assistant Superintendent Forrest Ransdell, 109 of the district’s 359 classrooms are currently above those limits, although he believes that figure is lower than last year.
Ward 10 Board of School Committee Member Gary Hamer and Ward 11 Board of School Committee Member Dr. Nicole Leapley expressed frustration that the larger class sizes seemed to be more prevalent in West Side schools, particularly Manchester West High School.
Leapley specifically was frustrated with the impression that administrators were forced to choose between class sizes and efficiency, something Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. Jenn Gillis said was inaccurate. Gillis added that West Principal Richard Dichard would be present at future class-size discussions.
There were also questions from the board as to why larger class sizes than normal are being allowed if those caps are district policy and why more teachers are not being hired.
Gillis indicated the primary issue behind the class sizes is space restrictions rather than a lack of teachers and the district’s new course catalog has also played a role, with some specialized courses having teachers with just one student. Still, Gillis said she would continue to look at classes to see where shifts can be made to optimize class sizes.
Gillis added that class sizes in Manchester are at a comparable size to nearby districts.
At-Large Board of School Committee Member Peter Argeropoulos felt that the district should seek class size limits of 20 at all levels given that studies have shown classes larger than that size result in significantly lower test scores. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig also expressed concern given the need for smaller class sizes given the district’s hopes to transition into differentiated teaching methods.
Members of the board also expressed their hope that Gillis can hire a new assistant superintendent to replace the outgoing Amy Allen as well as an HR Director, with Craig noting that Gillis’ team has been putting in the utmost effort to fill those positions.
A list of students per class can be found below.
Hillside Middle School
McLaughlin Middle School
Parkside Middle School
Southside Middle School
Memorial High School
Central High School
West High School
Manchester School of Technology