To the Editor:
As a parent of three children in the Goffstown public schools, I am extremely concerned about the large class sizes that exist at Maple Avenue School. Goffstown’s average class size in grades 1& 2 is 20.3 students, and in grades 3 &4 is 24.5, as compared to the state averages of 17.8 and 19.3 respectively. I find these numbers concerning, and what alarms me more is the class size of the fourth grade classes at Maple Avenue this year. Each fourth grade classroom has an average of 27 students, a number that exceeds the state average of 19.3 by a whopping 40%. This excess can be expected to continue based on the current enrollment in lower grades and the demographics of Goffstown.
As a professional educator and reading specialist, I know the research on class size. Many studies in recent years have shown a direct correlation between smaller class size and higher student achievement. This line of study is well researched, and the results are conclusive. The researchers and educators that discover these facts have also proven that smaller class sizes lead to better academic performance for many years to come. In other words, it’s an investment that lasts. When teachers have smaller groups of students to work with they are able to provide more small group direct instruction, which is the most effective means of teaching. I am passionate about striving for the BEST instruction for Goffstown students and it starts with the right class sizes.
Keeping this in mind, the recent call by the budget committee to further reduce the Goffstown school budget is definitely not a characteristic of a town striving to provide the BEST education to its students. Rather, it suggests an attitude of doing the minimum possible. Our class sizes are high partly as a result of years of frugal spending on education, a pattern that has placed Goffstown consistently at the bottom of “per-student-spending” statistics published by the State of New Hampshire for at least 10 years.
I have been thinking about this issue for a while and I have come to a conclusion. It is impossible for Goffstown to address a critical issue like class size when the administration is handcuffed by a school budget that is even smaller than the budget presently in place. Our town committees need to recognize there is a difference between being fiscally responsible and fiscally shortsighted. It’s time we stop cutting down our schools, and start supporting them, because Goffstown Matters to me.