School Board votes to increase class size at Magnet

School Baord Oct 18

The Natchitoches Parish School Board held a Special Called Meeting Oct. 18 to approve a recommendation made by Superintendent Dale Skinner. Skinner recommended that each class at Natchitoches Magnet be increased by six students per class to make the ratio of 26:1, which in line with what all the other schools have. The students will be admitted according to standard admission criteria: basic or above on state testing and a 2.5 GPA.

Skinner recommended that these changes be put into effect as soon as the appropriate information can be gathered and finalized. The selection process for which students will make the transition will start next week. Children already on the waiting list for Magnet will be chosen first. Information will be gathered from the schools and the children with the best test scores will be chosen.

By increasing the classroom sizes at Magnet by six students it will save four teachers for the school district’s staffing formula when it comes time to start working on their budget. This is hypothetical, not reality.

“Our job is to see that every child reaches their potential,” said Rhonda Guidroz. “It’s not ideal. It’s terribly difficult, but we are charged with helping every child reach their potential whether they’re a top or low performing student.”

There was contention among the board members concerning Magnet. “Since opening Magnet, other schools have been struggling to get their test scores up,” said Metoyer. “The top schools in the Parish take the brightest students and they get all the glory. I can’t vote to keep taking the best students from all the schools.”

Hilton said what truly bothers him is that the school system just went through a reduction and yet people still vote against taxes to improve the district and board members still vote against increasing millages.

Ken Bates, who has a granddaughter at Magnet, said the student, teacher ration is very important. He’s taught at the high school level. He said adding children into the classes at Magnet needs to be studied before it’s done.

However, Skinner said that if Magnet can’t teach 26 children per class, how can anyone expect other schools to do so. Bates countered that this wasn’t why Magnet was set up, to which Skinner replied that he didn’t care why Magnet was set up. He cares about the well being and education of the entire student body.

“People have no idea what we face/fight with on an everyday basis,” he said. “We have to do a better job at the other schools and I believe we have better people in positions this year.”

Brenda Milner cautioned the School Board members about voting in a rush just to get the ratio up to 26:1 at Magnet. She questioned why this couldn’t wait until the beginning of the next school year so students could start off with the same curriculum at the same time.

Katrina Wilson-Willis, Harry Graham and Emile Metoyer voted against this agenda item. Mike Hilton and Steven Harris abstained from the vote. It passed with 6 votes from the board.

4 thoughts on “School Board votes to increase class size at Magnet

  1. Just unbelievable! Really ! This School board and administration has no idea of the needs of their students they are suppose to represent! Please read statistical facts on the size of a classroom with above a 20:1 ratio. Get some professional direction and facts at the top level on this board. Some real educators that care.
    Here in lies the problem, this school board and the superintendent make knee jerk decision all the time with out facts!! Not all students can learn the same and those needs must be addressed.
    Why not really. truly really put the resources of the MFP and other Federal funds to the student and teacher. Hire more qualified FULL TIME teachers! You are running off all the good caring teachers.
    If you want more successful schools do the hard work! Reduce overhead, reduce large expenses reduce administration, find savings, find more grants, do more with less!!. Do not pay a school board member! They should be a public servant for the greater good anyway and not their own ill informed agendas. Do not pay for any trips use those funds toward a student.Do what ever it takes to stand up for these students in all schools
    Then maybe, Then you could support each school, each teacher and each student with this 20:1 ratio. Your scores would be off the charts and you may even have a blue ribbon school in this parish. You are also ruining the mission of magnet schools.

  2. Why were parents not notified of this meeting and is it too late to protest? That is a big jump in numbers and it is not fair to any of the children. Maybe a smaller jump to 22/24 at the beginning of the next school year is a better move.

  3. I don’t see a problem with larger class sizes. It works in East Asian countries. The formative years are the most informative. Considering Natchitoches is a “closed-society”, there should be no problem at all. The recommendation itself is proof of this. However, there seems to be a lack of strategic planning if this is being laid out in the middle of a school year. I think most would agree.

  4. My child goes to Magnet, and I know from a personal standpoint just how fast-paced the classes are taught. The material is put out there, taught, tested, and they move on. Students have to be on top of their game, and not a whole bunch of one on one is given. Moving new children into this environment 2 months into the school year, may not be such a good idea. What if their previous school was behind? What if this causes the child to struggle? Grades to fall? My opinion is, maybe it should have waited until the start of a new school year.

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