Enrollment Down At TPS, Teachers Still Outnumbered

Friday, August 24th 2012, 9:59 pm
By: Emory Bryan

One week into the school year for Tulsa Public Schools, enrollment is down by over 800 students, yet some classes are still overcrowded,

For one biology class at Memorial High School, with one teacher and 41 students, learning science comes down to math.

Most classrooms are not designed to hold more than 35 students.

"It is larger than usual, though last year I did start the year with 45 students in one of my classes," said biology teacher Sandra Dunham.

Dunham said cannot divide her attention 41 ways, so, instead, she divides it in two.

"I take the students and divide the class in half," Dunham said. "Half gets to do the lab the first half of the class, while the others do book work, and then we flip the class and they do the lab, the other half does the book work. That way the whole class gets to do the lab."

3/16/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Will Start Next Year With Fewer Teachers

Memorial Principal Darin Schmidt said class sizes are larger this year than last year, but a lot of the problem now is just scheduling students between the subjects they need.

"First we get kids in classes and we will go through a leveling process," Schmidt said.

The budget forced a change in the student teacher ratio from 27-to-1 last year to 29-to-1 this year.

That's despite a drop in enrollment at TPS.

On the fourth day of school, last year, there were 39,319 students.

This year, it's down to 38,428—a loss of 880 students.

TPS hires teachers based on a forecast, but waits to see how many kids show up at each school to reconsider those numbers.

With the enrollment now set after the fifth day of classes, the balancing act begins for Tulsa Public Schools. It's even possible that teachers could move between schools to level out the number of students in a classroom.

The classes at Memorial High and all the other schools will be adjusted over the coming week to reflect the new numbers.