PLEASANTON -- The public school system is going to stagger starting times for first- through third-graders and have larger class sizes in the coming school year.
Facing another year of budget cuts, Pleasanton Unified School District leaders said they decided to stagger starting times for the three grades to be able to offer reading instruction in small classes for 45 minutes a day.
Some students will come in 45 minutes earlier than others to get the reading instruction in smaller classes. Others will stay 45 minutes longer to get the reading instruction at the end of the day.
"We are trying our best to offer the highest-quality education programs that we can afford," said Jane Golden, the school district's director of curriculum and special projects. "Reading is the most important thing you do in the primary grades. You don't do it with 30 students and one adult."
The school year starts Aug. 28. Students in first through third grades will start at the same time during the first two weeks, when their reading skills will be evaluated. After that, parents will be notified of their students' schedule for the rest of the school year.
Golden said the school board decided it could no longer afford to have a class size of 25 students for first through third grades. Instead, the class size will increase to 30 students in the coming school year.
Rather than stick with that 30-1 student-to-teacher ratio throughout the entire school day,
Recognizing the staggered starts could inconvenience parents who may have two children starting school at different times, the district is going to look into the possibility of providing some supervised child care for 45-minute periods, Golden added.
Despite the changes, the school district will be able to exceed the state's minimum number of instructional minutes for first through third grade, Golden said. Back in the late 1990s, the school district also had staggered starting times.
Information about the school district changes can be viewed at the district's website, www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us (click on "staggered reading information").
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.