OP/ED: How to Fix Crowding? Start with Middle School

| July 23, 2015 | 0 Comments | Education
Tim Singstock (Photo provided by the Singstock campaign.)

Candidate for Prince William School Board Chairman, Tim Singstock (Photo provided by the Singstock campaign.)

Opinion Piece Written by Candidate for Prince William School Board Chairman Singstock 

Almost every elected official and candidate on the ballot this November will acknowledge crowding as a significant issue in Prince William County Schools. While the School Board and Board of County Supervisors have made limited headway on this issue in recent years, it seems we continue to work around the edges of this problem. Until we have a plan with budget implications, we cannot have an open and honest debate about class size reduction.

As a Certified Project Management Professional and former Army officer, I have learned that problems of this magnitude need to be divided into smaller problems and solved incrementally. My proposal starts with middle school and will be phased in over time.

According to the Washington Area Boards of Education, middle school is where the problem is most acute. Average class sizes in Prince William County middle schools are 31.5. Reducing middle school class sizes will reduce high school dropout rates, raise academic performance and improve teacher morale.

Furthermore, middle school students are experiencing some of the most challenging transitional years of their lives. We need to keep these students engaged in the classroom if they are to be successful in high school and beyond. Reducing middle school class sizes has the added benefit of aiding today’s elementary schools kids when they enter middle school.

While creative solutions such as dual enrollment with Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Virtual High school exist to alleviate crowding in high schools, similar solutions do not exist for middle school students. I have to be honest – we simply need to build more classrooms and hire more teachers. This will be expensive, but knowing the numbers is half the battle.

The cost to reduce class sizes in a single grade level across all Prince William County schools by one child per class is $1.4 million/year. The cost to reduce all middle school class sizes by one child is $4.2 million/year. The cost to reduce average middle school class sizes five children per class is $21 million per year!

I propose implementing this program over a five year period. With a billion dollar operating budget, $21 million may not seem like much, but finding these funds will require a transparent and honest dialogue within the community about our priorities. This is democracy in action.

As a community, we will have to make difficult decisions to reduce class sizes for our middle school students. Only when leaders step forward with clearly articulated plans can we move towards real solutions. Here is my plan, Prince William County, let’s start the dialogue: TimSingstock.org.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent Bristow Beat, our staff, contributors or sponsors. 

© 2015, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

Facebook Comments
Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Education

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

banner ad