'Time for parents to start attending board meetings'

30 Oct 2019 | 01:26

    Byram Schools class sizes need to be addressed by parents

    I remember the first time I entered Byram Intermediate School. A friend of mine invited me to go with him and his mom to set up her classroom. Little did I know that about a decade later I would be a teacher in that same building. Today, I am approaching teaching in Byram for almost 20 years. During that time I have taught many of my Lenape classmates’ children. They choose to stay here in Byram because they wanted their children to have the same wonderful experience growing up and being educated in a community that cares about our students and pushes them to succeed. When you speak to them about their experience growing up and being educated here in Byram they will talk about their friends and the teachers who had a major impact on them. One of the key parts of that experience was having small class sizes.

    Today, that experience is in jeopardy. The state government has decided to follow a funding formula that penalizes wonderful school districts like Byram and reduces the amount the state funds the district. Because of that, Byram started this year with 4 less teachers than last year. The sad truth is it would have been more if 2 teachers had not retired. Class size has ballooned, for example 4th grade classrooms with 25 students and 7th grade classrooms with 27 students. I doubt that is why families new to Byram moved here.

    With class sizes increasing, how do students form the connections and bonds with their teachers that they have done in the past which has made Byram such an amazing community to grow up in? Why would our current and future Lenape Valley graduates want to stay in a town that has such high class sizes?

    At this point, our Board of Education has done what it can to limit the damage, they have tightened the budget belt as much as possible, however, sadly we will again most likely be dealing with another reduction in state funding for 2020-2021 school year. While it is early in the school year, now is the time for parents to start attending board meetings regularly and sharing their concerns about our wonderful schools.

    Charlie Best

    President

    Byram Education Association