Rate of Teachers Steadies, Rate of Students Skyrockets


In recent years, the number of students enrolling in MCPS has drastically increased, while the number of staff hired to accommodate students has not corresponded to this growth. Due to these disproportional numbers, class sizes have grown.
According to an MCPS advocacy document for the recent operating budget statement for the 2017 fiscal year (FY), enrollment in MCPS schools has increased by 17,171 students since 2009, while more than 1,800 staff positions have been eliminated since 2009.
Because of this, there has been a 12 percent increase in student enrollment, but only a three percent increase in staffing. As enrollment has been continuously increasing, there have been budget cuts, leading to changes in staffing formulas for several schools.
“What this means is that some of the growth has been offset by the reductions. Overall, there are increases in the number of teachers, but these increases are not as big as they would have been if we had kept the formulas the same,” Executive Director of the Office of the Chief Operating Officer Nicola Diamond said. “In other words, staffing isn’t keeping up with enrollment.”
As spending on staffing has decreased, class sizes have increased. The FY 2017 Operating Budget aims to improve this issue by reducing class sizes as a part of achieving their ultimate goal, which is to close the achievement gap among students.
While this is a pressing issue in the county, it is not as evident at RHS. Each year, the county gives schools a projection of standard class sizes, which RHS is typically fairly close to every school year.
The main issue with scheduling and staffing is matching up a good proportion of teachers and students for every class and making sure every class is prepared for the coming year, with reasonable class sizes.
“When the staffing comes, when I get those numbers, then I have to somehow make what the students signed up for and how many adults that I get to make that happen [work]. It doesn’t always match up perfectly,” Principal Billie-Jean Bensen said.
The scheduling process is driven by students’ requests for their preferred classes. The number of how many sections are offered of each class depends on how many students sign up for it.
If a class is offered but not enough students sign up for it, then decisions have to be made not to offer it. Students then have to meet with their counselors to rearrange their schedules for their alternate choices. When it is finalized which classes are being offered, then staff are matched up for the classes.
While classes at RHS range in several sizes, in general, 63 percent of a random sampling of sophomores, juniors and seniors believe that large class sizes negatively affect students and their ability to learn.
According to sophomore Sophia Rosen, it is much more beneficial to students to have smaller class sizes, as they get more individual attention from their teacher.
“When there’s such big classes, a lot of kids don’t pay attention, and the teachers can’t focus on kids [as much] as they could in a smaller class,” Rosen said.
For the 2016-17 school year, the average projection is 29 students per class, but this is a problem that MCPS is trying to fix in order to ensure that students are receiving the best education that they can get as the county continues to grow.
“If you cut down the class by even just a few students, it’ll help,” Rosen said. “And you’ll see the effects it has on all of the students because the teachers are able to help them a lot more, one on one.”