Research shows that the benefits of neighborhood schools are many. As the Board has learned, going back to the neighborhood school saves millions. Children attending elementary school in their neighborhood creates a connection between them and their school. There is also a family connection involved. Parents are more likely to be involved in their child’s education and school activities and are more likely to create a positive working relationship with the school and their child’s teacher.
The larger community also benefits from this concept. When the school becomes the hub of community activity people begin to relate to one another as members of a community. Once the school opens itself to events and activities in which students are involved a common bond is created between and among parents, teachers, and community members as all see the positive outcomes of those events and activities. As positive actions and attitudes grow within neighborhoods, they generate out to the larger community and begin to connect with one another making the entire city a more positive place to live.
The Board has come to realize the benefit of neighborhood schools now they must turn their attention to the benefit of smaller class sizes at the elementary level.
According to recent research by the American Educational Research Association, “Ideally, students should experience small classes of 13 to 17 students when entering school, in either kindergarten or first grade.” As well, “students who were in small classes for three or four years retain a greater advantage.”
Our educational dollars must be spent to their greatest advantage and the greatest advantage for our children is smaller class sizes at the elementary level. Spending millions to reconfigure schools in order to change their grade levels will do little to address our children’s educational success if we continue to pack students into classrooms like sardines in a can. Overcrowding elementary schools by adding 7th and 8th graders has not been proven to be successful in Rochester. We have a cohort. We have the means to collect the data. Let’s look before we leap!
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