Framingham Teachers Association and the Framingham School Administration, while in the midst of tense contract negotiations, do agree on one thing - there are too many middle school classes above the Framingham School Committee guideline of no more than 25 students per class.
According to a memo to the School Committee from Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott, there are a total of 115 middle school classes with more than 25 students.
Of the 115 middle school classes, 54 of those classes are in core subjects such as math, science, social studies, language arts and world language.
And 44 of those core classes are at Cameron Middle School, 4 at Fuller Middle and 6 at Walsh Middle. (See attached chart for more details.) There are roughly about 500 classes are each of the middle schools, both core and non-core.
The Framingham Teachers Association has been without a contract since August. They are seeking a new contract and want three key items:
- Limits on Class Sizes
- A Well-Defined Work Day
- Fair Cost of Living Adjustment
At a rally at the Memorial Building Tuesday night Framingham Teachers Association President Sam Miskin, a high school teacher, talked specifically about the class size issue. (See attached video).
"The size of a child’s class will directly impact their ability to achieve at high levels. This can’t be a problem in Framingham, you say. Well it is. The School Committee has a policy that says that the maximum number of students in a middle school “major” classes should be 25. Currently at Cameron Middle School, there are “major” classes that are over the maximum. In fact, there are 40. Forty classes that have more than 25 students. It’s only one school you say … it happens at others as well. Across all the middle schools, there are 50 classes that above the guidelines. Fifty classes that are above the guideline. Then what good are these guidelines?," said Miskin at the rally. "The FTA wants to have class size language in the contract so that we can ensure all students are in classes of reasonable class size. All students have the same opportunity as their peers. All students can be successful in school."
"Middle school classes have been most impacted by reductions in staffing. Due to . Plans are underway to reduce larger classes for the coming year," said Scott in a February memo to School Committee members. "Funding and space permitted, the policy guidelines will continue to be an effective mechanism for limiting class sizes at all levels."
"In far too many of our schools,  or more students are pressed desk-to-desk in a single classroom. Too many teachers have to spend more time maintaining order than maintaining high academic standards. And with the
largest school enrollments in our history still to come, the problem is only going
to get worse," said Miskin at the rally. "We must ensure that class size is maintained for all students in Framingham to give all students the same opportunity."
School Committee policy is silent on high school class size due to the variety of types of classes that exist, explained Scott.
"Classes at the high school are organized in many cases by performance levels. Overall, teacher-student load is a more relevant indicator of the demand on teachers. There are currently 33 teachers having at least one class of more than 25 students. Currently, only two teachers have an overall student load averaging more than 25 students per class. In both of these cases (science and band), this is by teacher choice," wrote Scott in his memo to the Schol Committee members.
Scott said his Fiscal Year 2014 staffing recommendations for Framingham High include adding full-time teachers to each of these core subjects.
"Funding permitted, this will resolve this concern," he said.
At the elementary school level, the School Committee class size policy is as follows:
- Kindergarten: 19 (plus or minus 3)
- Grade 1-2: 20 (plus or minus 4)
- Grade 3-5: 21 (plus or minus 4)
"At the elementary level, there are six classes that are above the class size guidelines. Five kindergarten classes at Barbieri Elementary are over the guideline because Barbieri has been allowed to assign 24 incoming kindergarteners to a class rather than 22 for a number of years," wrote Scott. "This provision helps manage the annual attrition from the (two-way) program."
"This year, one first grade class at McCarthy Elementary School (25) is participating in a pilot program that includes additional special education students in a standard class with a dually certified teacher and an assistant
from a smaller class that was combined," wrote Scott to the School Committee in a February 2013 memo.
Negotiation sessions are scheduled for next week between the Association and the administration. The Association also plans to continue to picket at the schools and hold another rally.