School class sizes projected

Elementary schools to have 15 to 23 kids per class

Kindergarten and first-grade classes at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools will have no more than 19 students this year.

Third- through fifth-grade classes at Straw--berry Park and fifth-grade classes at Soda Creek will have 22 or 23 students per class.

That's according to the best class-size estimates school officials could make as of Monday.

The estimates could change slightly in the coming days and weeks, because some students who enrolled may not show up, and new students may enroll.

At Strawberry Park Elementary School, Principal Mark MacHale added an extra section of kindergarten to accommodate the number of students who were enrolling. With that fourth section, out-of-district students who wanted to enroll were able to do so.

"I think it was a real win-win for all the families," MacHale said, because local students will have smaller classes and out-of-district students are able to enroll.

Small class sizes for those youngest years are key to children's education, MacHale said, and it's important that children in kindergarten, first and second grades get enough individual attention.

Strawberry Park could have as many as 35 more students enrolled this year than last year, MacHale said. Last year, there were 420 students enrolled by the fall. This year, 455 students are enrolled. At Soda Creek Elementary School, almost 400 students are enrolled.

At Strawberry Park, as of Monday, the kindergarten classes had 18, 17, 15 and 15 students. There are four out-of-district students enrolled, Superintendent Donna Howell said.

At Soda Creek Elementary School, there are two kindergarten classes of 18 students and two classes of 19.

First-grade classes at both schools have between 15 and 17 students. Howell said first-grade classes typically are kept small because it is the first year students are at school full time.

For the second grade, classes at Strawberry Park have 18 or 19 students, but Soda Creek has 21 or 22 students per class. Third- and fourth-grade classes at Soda Creek have between 21 and 22 students.

School officials are monitoring classes that could have 23 students and could add extra support in the form of teachers aides.

As of Monday afternoon, 476 students were expected at Steamboat Springs Middle School, and 660 were projected at Steamboat Springs High School.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203

or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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