As I read the Sun Journal on Feb.28, I felt a breath of relief. Gov. Baldacci’s plan to consolidate schools included a raise in the teacher student ratio from 16-1 in middle schools to 17-1. This part of the plan was, as I thought about it later that day, misleading these to the public, especially to people who are not in classrooms on a daily basis.

As a classroom teacher, I think it is important that the public realize what this “small” increase would mean. The current ratios calculated includes administration, nurses, guidance counselors, secretaries and other staff who are not in the classroom. So, a 16-1 ratio means 26 students in my classroom, and as high as 30 in other schools. A raise of just one student looks like a great idea; it would save 25 million dollars over three years. In actuality, this increase would add 3-4 students to each classroom in the school that I teach. This is based on the number of staff verses the number of teachers. An increase of one student per staff member would bring most classroom ratios to the mid- or upper- twenties for one teacher.

Don’t be fooled by these statistics, which make classrooms look small. Most middle school teachers would love to have a true 17-1 ratio, which would actually mean 17 students in our classrooms.

Heidi Lebel, Lewiston

Editor’s Note: The state announced Feb. 28 it would withdraw the 17-1 ratio from school consolidation plans.


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