Hillside home to smallest middle school classes in Manchester
Nearly 80 classes in the middle schools are crowded by the state standard of 30 students per teacher. The greatest number of crowded classes, 37, is at McLaughlin Middle School, according to enrollment numbers shared with the school board last week. There are 23 crowded classes at Parkside, and 17 at Southside. Only two classes at Hillside exceed 30 students.
“Clearly the administration is aware we keep close scrutiny on what’s going on at Hillside,” he said, adding, “I was appalled to hear the numbers were as high as they were at the other schools.”
District officials did not initially release the class size data to the public, but on Monday they provided numbers to the New Hampshire Union leader that were largely the same as those released to the school board last week. The numbers show a significant difference between the average class size at Hillside and the other schools.
The school board has urged the administration to use part of a $830,000 budget surplus to hire more middle school teachers.
Compared to the other middle schools, Hillside is located in a well-off part of the city, north of Bridge Street next to Derryfield Park. Hillside is also the beneficiary of an extraordinarily active and supportive PTO. Last year, the group raised $32,000. O’Connell said he believed the group may have surpassed that amount following its annual fundraiser on Friday.
But O’Connell stressed that the PTO’s support went toward computers and technology at the school, not staffing.
A showdown at Hillside in the fall of 2012 set the stage for what would become the dominant issue facing the school board that year. O’Connell informed media outlets that two classes at Hillside had more than 40 students and might pose a safety hazard.
Citizens for Manchester Schools has not pressed the issue of class sizes so far this year. O’Connell said CMS wanted to give the new administration a chance to “solve the problem.”
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