We are receiving numerous calls and emails from school districts and charter schools requesting information regarding the possible changes they might find it necessary to make next year in their participation in the K-3 Class Size Reduction (CSR) program. This is to clarify the proper procedures to follow under current law:
Dropping the CSR Program Completely
If you must completely eliminate your participation in the program, you simply don't submit an application. (Please be aware that if we don't receive an application, we'll probably call you - just to make sure you haven't forgotten to submit it - unless you send us a note or call to let us know you aren't participating.) Withdrawing from the program in any year will NOT affect your eligibility to participate in the program in subsequent years.
Keeping the Program, But Eliminating One or More Grade Levels
If you find it necessary to reduce your participation in the program, you must do so in the reverse order that the law requires for implementation. (Please remember that implementation - and "de"implementation - is by grade level and by school site.) At a school, you must eliminate kindergarten and 3rd grade first, then 2nd grade, then 1st grade. You are not required to eliminate an entire grade level unless you want to proceed to the next grade level. You may, for example, eliminate only part of the kindergarten and 3rd grade classes at a school. However, if you also wish to eliminate classes in 2nd grade, you must first eliminate all of the kindergarten and 3rd grade classes.
Rather than eliminating grade levels (or the entire program) completely, if your budget allows, you might consider changing your CSR participation from Option 1 to Option 2 in one or more classes or grade levels. It is entirely permissible to have classes in both Options at the same grade level, or to have your kindergarten classes all in Option 2 (for example), while the rest of the program is Option 1. In other words, you can mix and match the Options however you see fit. Option 2 simply requires that you offer a reduced class size (20.44 maximum) for 50% of the instructional minutes offered per day, and that instruction in reading and math be the primary focus during that time. Although Option 2 isn't the ideal, it at least provides the opportunity for pupils to receive their reading and math instruction in reduced size classes. The per pupil amount for Option 2 is half that provided for Option 1 - $453 vs. $906 (respectively) in 2002-03.
Many districts that have a.m./p.m. kindergarten classes use Option 2 - especially when facilities are at a premium or they are unable to hire additional teachers (or both). For example, if a district has kindergarten classes with 30 pupils in each class, the p.m. teacher can assist the a.m. teacher for 1/2 of the minutes in the morning, and the a.m. teacher can assist the p.m. teacher for 1/2 of the minutes in the afternoon, bringing the ratio down to 15:1 in each class.
Option 2 may be implemented in a variety of other ways as well. For example, if a district had classes of 30 pupils, it could employ one additional teacher to make six Option 2 classes of 20. It would do this by taking 10 pupils from each of two classes and sending them for reading and math instruction to the additional teacher for the first 50% of the instructional minutes. This would be repeated for the second 50% of the instructional minutes using 20 different pupils (10 each) from two additional classes. Another method is to place an additional teacher into one class of 30 for the first 50% of the minutes and into a different class of 30 for the last 50% of the minutes, resulting in four Option 2 classes.
We hope this information will assist you in making the difficult decisions you face.