Questions About Teachers and Classrooms
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Questions About Teachers and Classrooms

Questions About Teachers and Classrooms

Why can’t we increase class size? Why can’t we keep our current class sizes?

Everyone agrees that limiting class sizes is in the best interests of both students and staff. However, class size will be affected in almost any scenario related to solving for MPS’s budget deficit. If we increase class sizes minimally and in a very targeted, almost surgical way (by one student only where class sizes will still be under targets), class sizes are affected. On the other hand, if we are forced to lay off significant numbers of teachers due to insufficient funding, class sizes will be affected in ways that we cannot now predict.

What are our class size targets now?

Target class sizes for individual schools may vary based on the school profile. High-priority schools (Anishinabe, Bancroft, Cityview, Folwell, Green Central, Elizabeth Hall, North High School, Olson, Pratt and Sheridan) have lower class size targets than other MPS schools because their students demonstrate greater academic need based on the Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMRs) determined by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Would class size increases apply for SPED classrooms?

No, Special Education class numbers follow state guidelines.

What are teacher development days? Why are they needed?

MPS works to continuously improve teaching and learning quality at each school site. An important aspect of continuous improvement is effective staff development and training. Teacher development days are days set aside specifically for professional development for our teachers. Our teacher contract specifies the number of days teachers should receive professional development each year.

What is the criteria for how schools are funded?

Please see an overview of how schools are funded here.

How much money do we lose to open enrollment?

We lose about 13,000 kids to open enrollment at approximately $6,000 per student. However, it’s difficult to say exactly how much money that is for many reasons. We know not every family in Minneapolis will choose to send their children to MPS, even if we do everything right. Also, different amounts of revenue are provided based on student need—and we can’t say how much might be associated with every student who doesn’t choose MPS. It’s not really a revenue loss when people exercise choice; it’s a revenue opportunity for MPS to show families why they should come back. When we budget, though, we have to operate on the revenue we have, not what could be.

What is MPS going to do to increase enrollment?

MPS enrollment has actually stayed fairly flat over the past several years. What has declined is market share (the percentage of families living in Minneapolis who chose MPS) as more families have chosen charter schools. MPS is in the middle of a Comprehensive Districtwide Assessment of enrollment, transportation, boundaries and programming that is expected to guide the district in taking advantage of trends and opportunities that could impact and enhance enrollment over the next three years.

How do you project the enrollment for the district?

We use a variety of indicators and are generally within about 2% of the actual overall district enrollment. Indicators include: enrollments over the past 10 years so that we can identify trends, demographic trends working with the state demographer, housing changes in the area, projected charter school openings and any other key developments in the city.

How does the enrollment decline now compare to that in the past?

The enrollment decline is actually slowing after a downward trend for the past five years. However, birth rates are down across the city. We generally estimate that MPS needs 3,000 new kindergartners per year to sustain programming, and we’ve been somewhat below that now for five years.

Will teachers be laid off because of the reduction in time allocation to schools?

Yes, possibly. Every school’s needs will be different. If a school does not now offer seven periods, they may need fewer teachers at their school. In some cases, teachers will be moved to other assignments. In other cases, they may be laid off.

How can you talk about raising class size when we voted for a referendum to maintain class size?

You are correct that the 2016 referendum did, in fact, focus on class size. A class size target was not, however, included in that referendum. Instead, the funds from that referendum are to be used to “manage class size,” which is also the focus of this year’s reduction recommendations. MPS is not recommending an across-the-district increase, but instead targeted, focused increases of one student in classes where those classes will still be within class size targets. Stakeholders should know that class size will be affected in almost any scenario related to solving for MPS’s budget deficit. If we increase class sizes minimally and in a very targeted, almost surgical way (by one student only where class sizes will still be under targets), class sizes are affected. On the other hand, if we are forced to lay off significant numbers of teachers due to insufficient funding, class sizes will be affected in ways that we cannot now predict. We have more control with the former.