The Smyrna Board of Education approved a class size waiver at the Oct. 16 monthly meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Patrik Williams told the board that under a state law limitation, the district has to cap classrooms in grades kindergarten through third grade at 22 students per class.

"For the third consecutive year we're asking you to waive the cap, which would grant us additional flexibility," Williams said.

He said there are two main reasons as to why the district would prefer to waive the class size requirement rather than hire additional staff. First, there are a lot of parent request preferences for certain teachers; this happens a lot at Clayton Elementary.

"There are times a school will get 23 requests for a certain teacher and schools are reluctant to say no to one family," Williams said.

Secondly, waiving the class size requirement gives school administrators more flexibility to allocate staff across grade levels, especially when it comes to special needs purposes. Williams said waiving the requirement is a fiscally responsible action.

Sunnyside Elementary needed waivers for four third grade classes; each class has 23 students. Smyrna Elementary needed three waivers – one kindergarten class and two second grade classes; all three classes have 23 students each. North Smyrna Elementary needed waivers for three third grade classes; each has 25 students each.

Clayton Elementary needed waivers for seven classes. Four second grade classes needed waivers with 25 students in one class, 24 students in two classes, and 23 students in one class. Three third grade classes needed a waiver; two classes have 25 students and one class has 23 students.

State approves

During the work session, Superintendent Debbie Wicks announced that the Department of Education approved the district's request to make major capital improvements to the older schools in the district.

Wicks said Smyrna Elementary needs a new kitchen, while roofing work needs to be done at other schools in the district. Renovations are also need to be done at Clayton Elementary, North Smyrna Elementary, John Bassett Moore Intermediate School, and the Thomas D. Clayton School. Wicks said DOE is only approving work that needs to be done for the health and welfare of students and not aesthetic work to make the buildings look better.

Finance Director Jerry Gallagher said the district submitted the plan to DOE earlier this year; the district met with DOE, and has now been given approval to work on drafting a Certificate of Necessity. A CN is the first step in a process to see if a district can do a referendum.

Gallagher said the Certificate of Necessity will be brought to the school board for their Nov. meeting for approval; they'll also talk about setting a date for a referendum.

School Choice Night set

The district will have a public information meeting to outline school choice opportunities available for the 2014/2015 school year on Monday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Central Administration Building at 82 Monrovia Avenue.

The meeting will be in the board room.

"Five of the eight schools are still below the 85-percent capacity," Williams told the board.

Once a school is at 85 percent capacity, administrators are no longer required to accept school choice applicants. The opportunities available to inter- and intra-choice applications are at North Smyrna Elementary, John Bassett Moore Intermediate School, Clayton Intermediate School, Smyrna Middle School and Smyrna High School.

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