Urge Montgomery County Board of Education Not to Increase Class Size

Montgomery County Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Monique Felder

The Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Monique Felder have stated that they are considering an increase in class size, among other budget adjustments under consideration, in order to meet the Fiscal Year 2025 operating budget parameters set by the Montgomery County Council. We need to decrease—not increase—class sizes, which are already too large, particularly at the elementary level. Please sign this petition to make clear to the Board that it should not increase class size as a way to address the budget shortfall.

Petition by
Jonathan Thessin
Alexandria, Virginia

To: Montgomery County Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Monique Felder
From: [Your Name]

June __, 2024

The Honorable Karla Silvestre, President
Members of the Board of Education
Dr. Monique Felder, Interim Superintendent
Montgomery County Public Schools
15 West Gude Drive, Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20850

Dear President Silvestre, Members of the Board, and Interim Superintendent Felder,

In your message of May 24, you stated that the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) may need to increase class size guidelines by 1 student, among other budget adjustments under consideration, in order to meet the Fiscal Year 2025 operating budget parameters set by the Montgomery County Council. [FN1] We write to urge you not to approve a budget that results in an increase in class sizes.

We need to decrease—not increase—class sizes, which are already too large, particularly at the elementary level. Currently (and under MCPS’s proposed FY 2025 operating budget), MCPS states maximums of 24 students for kindergarten, 25 students for first and second grade, 26 students for third grade, and 28 students for fourth and fifth grade. [FN2] Significantly, all classes must have at least one student above the maximum class size, and one class must have at least two students above the maximum class size, in order for the school to request additional staffing. Therefore, a kindergarten class may have as many as 26 students in a class, and a fourth or fifth grade class may have as many as 30 students in a class.

Studies demonstrate that smaller class sizes result in higher achievement. [FN3] Most elementary classrooms are heterogenous, and the needs of students in these classrooms vary significantly, from students needing remedial instruction, to on-grade-level students, to students who qualify for enrichment. The existing large class sizes at the elementary level make it exceedingly difficult for teachers to provide differentiated instruction. An increase in class size will make it even more difficult for teachers to meet the needs of all students in their classrooms. We urge you not to increase class size.

Sincerely,

[FN1] Statement from Karla Silvestre, Pres., Montgomery County Pub. Sch., et al. (May 24, 2024), https://ww2.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/publicinfo/community/school-year-2023-2024/Community-Message-20240524.html.

[FN2] FY 2025 Operating Budget, Montgomery County Pub. Sch., App. C-1 (proposed Dec. 20, 2023) (Pre-K-12 Budget Staffing Guidelines for Professional Staff), https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/siteassets/district/departments/budget/fy2025_recommendedbudget.pdf#page=453.

[FN3] See, e.g., Matt Barnum, Does Class Size Really Matter? A Chalkbeat Look at the Research, Chalkbeat (June 10, 2022), https://www.chalkbeat.org/2022/6/10/23162544/class-size-research/ (observing that studies conducted in Tennessee, California, Minnesota, New York City, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin that “have shown lower class sizes boost test scores”).