Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 16, 2013

Ohnesorge implores Unit 50 board to keep class sizes

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

TEUTOPOLIS — To say Lori Ohnesorge is not happy about a proposal to consolidate five second grade classes at Teutopolis Grade School into three for the 2013-14 school year would be putting it mildly.

Not only did Ohnesorge, mother of a first-grader, speak out against the proposal at Monday's Unit 50 Board of Education meeting, but she has also circulated a petition against the proposal. With 99 signatures, Ohnesorge presented the petition at Monday's meeting.

"We wanted to give the board some feedback on the community's concern with the proposed changes," Ohnesorge said.

According to the petition, signees believe proposed second-grade classroom consolidation would "have a SIGNIFICANT impact on curriculum and increase the number of students to fall through the cracks.

"Especially at this grade level, students need individual assistance and attention that will not be available in a class of 30 students at different learning abilities."

Petition signers were invited to include brief comments on anything related to the issue. While some signees worried that teachers would burn out and others felt that sports should be the focus of cuts instead of classroom education, others said administrative cuts should be given a longer look.

St. Francis Township Trustee John Miller said any cuts should begin on the administrative level.

"If we start somewhere, we need to start at the top, rather than start at the bottom and pick away until there is nothing left," Miller said.

Superintendent Bill Fritcher said, however, Unit 50 has a higher ratio of students to adminstrators than the state average - as well as a higher ratio of the same than other school districts in the county, according to the Illinois Interactive Report Card.

According to that report card, there are 248.4 students per administrator in Unit 50 schools, compared to a statewide average of 205 students per administrator.

Still others implored the board to keep class sizes at their current levels.

Ohnesorge isn't sure whether the petition will do any good, but she's hopeful the board will at least listen to parent concerns.

"It's hard to tell at this point, but I feel like the board is open to our concerns," she said.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.