Enrollment Meeting Summary
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17 June,2016By: Diana Guzzi
Dear Bowen Families,

Thank you to all who were able to join us on Monday, June 13th at Bowen for the discussion on enrollment. It was a productive meeting and we would like the entire Bowen community to benefit from the information shared. We were pleased to have with us at the meeting Superintendent David Fleishman, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Cynthia Paris Jeffries, and School Committee Vice Chair Ruth Goldman. I facilitated the meeting together with our Assistant Principal Tiffany Back.  

Enrollment History
In 2012-2013, Bowen had 20 classrooms with class sizes as high as 29 students.  Four classrooms were added for the 2013-2014 school year to bring the average class size to 18-22 students in 24 classrooms.  During that school year, Bowen’s enrollment peaked at just over 500 students. Anticipating continued enrollment growth, the Newton School Committee adjusted buffer zones for Bowen and four other elementary schools. The additional buffer zones were successful in moving students slotted to attend Bowen to other schools. During the same timeframe, there was an unexpected decrease in enrollment.  

Current Enrollment and Projection
Currently, there are 445 students in 23 classrooms, with an average class size of 18-22 students.  The enrollment for 2016-2017 (based on actual registrations versus projections) stands at 421 students in 20 classrooms, with an average class size of 19-24 students.

Along with classroom teachers, additional staff will support the academic and social/emotional growth of students at Bowen. For the 2016-2017 school year, there will be a full-time math coach, a .5 assistant principal/.5 interventionist, and a .5 reading intervention teacher. A full-time general education intern will also support the students in Grade 5.  

Facilities Change
Bowen plans to take advantage of the additional classroom space now available to add a cafeteria, as it is one of only two elementary schools in the district that does not have this space. The cafeteria will be in the current Art Room and will seat up to 100 students in cafeteria-style tables and stools.  Proximity to the kitchen will improve food service and quality, and the students and staff will have direct access to and from the recess area.

Moving Forward
We recognize these changes represent a new dynamic for Bowen. Because actual enrollment can vary from projections, the district is continually updating, adjusting, and refining its enrollment strategy. While adjustments are made, it is our commitment to always support the academic and professional growth of our students and staff and to maintain the community spirit that makes Bowen so special. We thank you for your patience and support as we navigate these changes.

It was a pleasure to meet with so many of you on Monday morning.  Additional notes from the meeting are below.  Should you have
additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely,
Diana Guzzi
Principal
 
Meeting Notes
The following information reflects data presented and questions asked by parents and families who attended the meeting.  While other questions were asked and points raised, we feel that the summary below provides an accurate reflection of the conversation.  
 
Class Size:
  • District-wide class size guidelines for the upper grades (3-5) are 23-25 students.
  • Classrooms in next year’s 4th grade will have an average class size of 24, which is an increase from the cohort’s current average class size of 18.
  • Next year’s 5th grade will have an average class size of 23, which is an increase from the cohort’s current average class size of 18.
  • Anecdotally, there has been at times some advantage socially to having a slightly larger class size in the upper grades, as students are able to mix up and interact with others more easily.  
  • If grade-level enrollment is over 75 students, Dr. Fleishman will add a class because Bowen has space to do so.  
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  • Staffing Stability:
  • In February, when preliminary budget discussions showed a loss of one classroom for Bowen, open conversations began with the Bowen staff.  These conversations have continued throughout the spring as new information became available.
  • Due to the “bubble class,” which is the current 2nd grade cohort, there will consistently be a need for teachers to switch grade levels.
  • Teachers have the chance to express interest in changing grade levels.  There are also times where teachers have other opportunities that will cause them to leave Bowen.
  • If Bowen were to keep a 4th grade teacher in anticipation of the “bubble class” the following year, another school in Newton would have average class sizes of 27 because of the district-wide allocation of teachers.
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  • Planning Ahead:
  • The district will work to “right size” Bowen, aiming for 440-450 students, within the next two to three years. The goal for Bowen is to have 21 classrooms.
  • The goal is to keep Bowen from being overcrowded, while maintaining allocations for support staff.
  • There is a district pool of aides allocated based on enrollment at the end of August, knowing that fluctuations happen over the summer.
  • The district will take another look at the buffer zones and their impact on Bowen’s enrollment.
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