Some classes at Riverview Ele-mentary have 29 or 30 kids, above recommended levels.
At Riverview Elementary in Farmington, school officials are experimenting with blended multi-age classrooms that have students of different grades in the same room being taught by multiple teachers.
The move is an academic exercise, but it also is addressing an overcrowding problem at the school that has seen parents complain about class sizes that in some instances are at 29 or 30 children per teacher.
"It's just not fair," said Kathy Scovill, one of the parents at Riverview pushing to have the class sizes reduced. "These kids are being asked to sit in classes of 30 students and you're asking them to perform. They're not going to do well."
The numbers are above the school district policy of student-teacher ratios, which call for 25-28 students in general third and fourth grades.
The numbers are well above those recommended by Education Minnesota, the union representing more than 70,000 educators in the state. That group recommends class sizes of 21 and under through the ninth grade and 17 in kindergarten through third grades, where the biggest problems are at Riverview Elementary.
Parents at the school said there are other schools in the district facing overcrowding, including Akin Road Elementary, where everyone agrees there is no more space for instruction and the district is looking to convert some other space, such as conference rooms, into teaching space.
Laura Pierce, the principal at Akin Road, said the school has grown from 663 students last year to about 716 this year.
"All of our classroom space is being used at capacity," said Pierce, who plans to hire a math specialist but must now figure out where to put that person and where kids will be instructed.
She believes that eventually might require converting a conference room into a classroom. "It's a nice problem to have," she said.
Parents not happy
The Farmington district is aware of the problem at Riverview and recently met with about a dozen parents, although nothing was decided to reduce the class sizes.
Instead, school district officials promised to monitor the situation and make changes if things become critical.
"I don't want my kids in a stressful classroom for a whole year," said Tera Lee, the Farmington school board president, who attended the meeting with Riverview parents. "Nobody wants that."
They also promised that aides, specialists and volunteers would be used in the third grade and other classrooms with higher ratios to at least get more adults in the rooms and around the kids.
"We've been watching the numbers for four months," said Kim Grengs, the school principal. "We are trying everything that we can."
That clearly was not enough for many of the parents present, who had hoped for an additional teacher, especially in the third-grade rooms.
"We're asking them to show us on paper how they're reducing the numbers," said Scovill. "I want a certified teacher teaching my kid the majority of the day."
The district said some of the crowding issues at Akin, Riverview and other schools are bubbles of large student groups moving through the system, created about five or six years ago when the housing bubble was near its peak.
This year, the Farmington district is experiencing growth, contrary to most of the school districts in Minnesota, according to Jim Skelly, the spokesman for Farmington schools.
"There are going to be hot spots every year; that is to be expected," said Skelly, who said the district is adding about 200 students, about 25 above its projections.
Grengs said that despite the numbers, she believes the children will be well cared for and well educated by the school.
"No one will be left behind," she promised the parents.
Heron Marquez • 952-746-3281