Sunday, June 8, 2008

MPNnow.com: Displaced Student Reregistration at 86%

MPNnow.com is reporting that the reregistration rate for Catholic school students displaced by the closure of 13 MCCS System schools has far exceeded that predicted by Bishop Clark's panel of "experts."

In January, Bishop Matthew Clark of the Diocese of Rochester announced the diocese would close 13 area Catholic schools in June, citing a sharp decline in enrollment and a significant budget shortfall. At the time of Clark’s announcement, diocese officials estimated that 48 percent of the students enrolled in the closing schools would enroll in other Catholic schools.

However, those figures appear to be drastically underestimated.

Doug Mandelaro, a spokesperson for the diocese, said 4,221 of the 4,884 displaced students — or 86 percent — have re-registered, far exceeding the retention goal. There are 376 openings available in the schools that are staying open, with 82 children on a waiting list for openings closer to their homes, Mandelaro said.

Another part of the story deals with class size at St. Joseph School in Penfield.

Right now, about 325 students are enrolled in the school. That number will jump by 122 to 447 in the fall, with 108 of those students coming from St. John’s of Rochester in Fairport.

St. Joseph’s currently has two classrooms for each grade, kindergarten through sixth, according to [Principal] Sister Christina Marie. The incoming students will be divvied up among those grades, making the average class size about 28.

“We could comfortably hold 30 per class,” she said.

As a result, no new classrooms will be added and new teaching staff will not be hired.

While Sister Christina Marie might feel comfortable with 30 children in each of her classrooms I know of no teachers - or parents - who would use the word 'comfortable' to describe their feelings about such a large class size.

7 comments:

CathParent said...

As a parent of one of the incoming St. Joe's students, I can say that Sr. Christina is doing her best with this difficult situation. One of the reasons we were drawn to St. Joe's was her leadership. The people at St. Joe's have gone out of their way to ease the transition for our children. The classrooms at St. Joe's can comfortably hold 30 students; however, the education they'll receive remains to be seen. I don't think anyone imagines that things will go smoothly next year, but what can you expect her to say, since she is an employee of the DOR?

Mike said...

CathParent,

Over the last few years I got to know several of the junior high teachers at Holy Cross. Just about every one of them felt that some of their kids started to get short-changed once class sizes approached the mid-20s. At that point it starts to get physically impossible to give each child the attention he/she deserves.

As far as Sister's comments go, I fully agree with you. She might not like the situation one bit but still has to make the best of it.

Dr. Knowledge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rich Leonardi said...

FWIW, there is virtually no independent research (i.e., research not conducted by school employee unions, facilities contractors, or others with vested interest) which shows a link between reduced class size and increased academic performance. The University of Rochester's Eric Hanushek wrote extensively about this subject in the '90s.

Mike said...

Gee, that's interesting. The last time I talked to Sr. Christina, about few weeks ago, she was sure that St. Joe's would get aids in all the classrooms for k-4 and an aid to share in grades 5 & 6.

It makes you wonder what this Diocese is thinking, or not.

To Cathparent, My son is a graduate of St. Joe's and my daughter will be in 6th grade for 08-09. I hope the experience there helps heal the hurt you feel from the closure of your child(rens)school.

Mike said...

Rich,

Here's my FWIW...

I just checked with my wife, who taught high school Spanish for 33 years. In the first part of her career modern language courses were electives in NY State and her pass/fail ratio was pretty much independent of class size - hardly surprising when one considers that most of her students were "motivated" in some sense to take her class.

When NY made a 3 year language sequence mandatory for earning a Regents diploma that outcome changed. Her larger classes generally had higher failure rates than her smaller ones.

Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but interesting nonetheless.

CathParent said...

The parents at our school have been discussing the class size issue constantly since registration. The reason we are willing to give it a try is we believe Catholic education is best for our children. We also believe that 30 in a classroom in a Catholic School is as manageable as 25 in a public school, given the atmosphere and lack of children with special needs (since those services are not as available to the Catholic Schools in our area).
Of course, that is based on what we are accustomed to. We could be very disappointed in St. Joe's, but we are hopeful that won't be the case.
We also realize that it might take more effort on our part, since the teachers will obviously be stretched very thinly.
The class sizes might still come down a little. If St John Bosco opens that will draw some students away. Other parents have their children dual-registered and won't really decide until the first tuition payment is due. Still others are giving it a month, or until January. The diocese is living in a fantasy world if they believe they stabilized anything!