ZCS: Smaller classes, programs return

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Although Zionsville Community Schools already has added 154 new students this year, efforts to reduce class sizes are working, the school board reports.

The school board received a preliminary report that showed smaller class sizes across all levels:

  • During the 2011-2012 school year there were 31 regular classes with 35 or more students at Zionsville Community High School. This academic year there is none (excluding special classes such as band). Additionally, there were 132 classes with 30 or more students and this year the number of classes at this size has dropped to 53.
  • At the middle-school level the number of regular classes with 35 or more students has dropped from 34 to three and the number of classes with 30 or more students has dropped from 101 to 73.
  • At the elementary-level where class size goals vary by grade level, the number of classes at or below the class-size goals has risen from 51 to 72 this year. The number of classes with four or more students over the class size goal has dropped from 40 to 27.

Supt. Dr. Scott Robison said the annual report on class sizes will be presented as scheduled at the next board meeting, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m., but he said he wanted to share the impact of the 25 new teaching and counselor positions on restoring academic excellence. The school board voted last spring to use Rainy Day Funds to restore these positions for this academic year, because funds from the community referendum will not be available until spring 2013.

In addition to the new positions aimed at reducing class sizes and restoring science and reading programs, the school board also authorized replacements for 17 positions left open due to resignations or retirements and 10 new teaching positions to operate full-day kindergarten. The State of Indiana provided school districts with a grant to offset a portion of the full-day kindergarten costs.

The board also learned that Zionsville saw a 26 percent increase in the number of students participating in the ACT exam. More than half of the graduating class took the exam. ZCHS had a composite score 16 percent higher than all ACT test takers in Indiana.

Collaboration with the Town of Zionsville and other local community organizations has also led to some unique opportunities and cost-savings. The school district was also able to provide existing fiber optic service to the Town of Zionsville in order for the mandated upgrade of telecommunications services. The shared resource resulted in an estimated savings to taxpayers of $172,000. Donations were recognized from both middle school PTOs to purchase software. Dow also gave a donation to provide equipment to assist in the high school genetics courses.

Minutes and podcasts of all School Board meetings can be found on the school website at www.zcs.k12.in.us.

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