Angry parents took the spotlight at Thursday evening's Parsippany Board of Education meeting. The audience at the session included a number of third-grade parents from Troy Hills Elementary School dissatisfied with what they call "overcrowding" in the classroom.
During the public comment section of the meeting, one third-grade mom or dad after another appeared to make a statement.
At present, there are two third-grade sections at Troy Hills School: one class has 25 students, the other 26. According to the school district policy 2312, which deals with class size, 25 students is the maximum size permissible for kindergarten through fifth grade. If there are more than 25 kids in the class, a new section in the same grade is opened--unless the class exceeds the maximum size allowed after the second Friday after the first day of school.
That is precisely the situation at Troy Hills. Three days after the deadline passed, a new student arrived, pushing one third-grade roster count to 26.
Jeffrey Kreitman praised the work of teacher Pauline Spiegel, but said he was concerned about the size of his son's class.
"I jus want the best education possible for my child. That's why I'm here," he said. "Class size does matter."
Kreitman said overstuffed classrooms overheat quickly; can increase the odds of picking up colds, flu and other communicable diseases and negatively impact children's educational experiences.
Board President Frank Calabria said the text of Policy 2312would be referred to the Policy Committee, which meets next on Oct. 5. He said that the panel, led by chairperson Fran Orthwein, would work to balance the interests of finance, facilities, students and staff.
Third-grade mom Alison Cogan was worried as well.
"What happens when a new third grader joins the class later in the year?" she asked.
"That's part of what the policy committee will review," Calabria explained.
Orthwein reassured the audience that her committee will listen and take their concerns seriously.
If the decision is made to create a new third-grade section, Calabria said, it will take about a week to make preparations.
Kreitman said he was not satisfied with being told to wait.
"The children are already falling behind," he said.
"Democracy is a process," Calabria said. "We'll try to move as quickly as possible."
Superintendent LeRoy Seitz gave "as quickly as possible" a specific date, saying a decision on how to deal with the 26-member third-grade class would come Oct. 6.