Board sets class size caps

Schools in the Kingman Unified School District now have building and classroom caps on pupil numbers following Tuesday night's meeting of the governing board.

Pupil numbers must be capped in order to ensure maximum use of school space, which is essential for getting construction funds from the state School Facilities Board.

Principals of each elementary school and Kingman Junior High School during the last month submitted their recommendations to district Superintendent Mike Ford, who presented them to the board.

The board adopted the recommendations after discussion that bordered on heated at times.

"You have in your board packet the numbers you asked me to bring back by school," Ford said.

"As you can see, Palo Christi caps at 550 students and the rest (of the schools) go up from there.

"I was surprised to see Cerbat at 800.

By School Facilities Board standards that probably means we can put 1,100 students out there, although I'm not sure where."

Building caps include 700 for La Senita, 720 for Hualapai, 750 for Manzanita and Black Mountain and 1,022 for the junior high school.

The cap for Mount Tipton School in Dolan Springs was set at 388.

Principals recommended kindergarten classes ranging from 20 pupils at Hualapai and Palo Christi to 24 at Mount Tipton and Black Mountain.

Ford wanted an across-the-board figure of 22 and got it, but member Jeri Short had concerns about some kindergarten teachers not having assistants.

"Principals decided how they wanted it," assistant Superintendent Betsy Parker said.

"At Black Mountain, Mrs.

(Jamie) MacGregor only has a one-third assistant, so she has an assistant in the middle of the day.

"Some (kindergarten teachers) have assistants all day, some share them three ways or two ways."

Ford asked the board to look just at the numbers presented.

He said he and his administrative team would take care of staffing and personnel as everything is put together.

"I understand what we're looking at," Short said.

"However, I also understand what it's like to be with 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds and 20 is a good number."

Ford assured her again staffing issues would be addressed.

Caps for each school and grade level were adopted.

They range from 20 for grades one and two at Palo Christi to 24 at Black Mountain, Mount Tipton and Manzanita.

Caps for grades four through six were 24 or 25 per class per school.

Member Charles Lucero asked what would happen if a parent wants to enroll a child in a school that has reached its capacity.

Ford said principals would make that decision, based on available space and facilities.

That prompted concern from member Pat Carlin Jr.

"We should set a general policy so we don't end up with one school 50 students over its cap and at another the principal allows no exceptions," Carlin said.

Ford agreed there needs to be consistency in policy and said he would meet with principals about the matter.

Terry White, director of finance for the district, gave a report on the third installment of Proposition 301 money for this fiscal year.

He said about $1.6 million out of $1,769,000 available for teachers has been spent this year, approximately $2,800 per eligible employee.

After citing minutes of a previous board meeting when "menu" and carryover money had been accepted and approved, White said all that remained was to approve a recommendation for disbursing the "third bucket," minus $175,000 required as working capital for 2003-2004 programs.

"That amount of money is approximately $205,000," White said.

"We have some professional staff activities that are going to take place that will deplete that amount somewhat, but it equates to between $450 and $500 per teacher and I recommend you accept that proposal."

The board agreed.

Ford also delivered a structural engineer's report about the integrity of Palo Christi, which soon will observe its 75th anniversary.

Cracks in the building are "cosmetic" in nature, he said.

"We can plan on using the facility for many years to come," Ford said.