EUGENE, Ore. — When Ashley Jorgensen lived in California, her son went to school 186 days out of the year. In Eugene, he’ll only be in the classroom for 165 days.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” says Jorgenson. “Twenty-one days is a huge difference.”
The 4J School District’s new budget left it with a choice: more days and bigger classes, or fewer days and smaller classes, and board member Jim Torrey says that smaller class sizes won out. “We believe it’s more important to have smaller class sizes than it is to have the large number of days,” he says.
Board members say having smaller class sizes will allow teachers to lend an extra hand to students who need help. Parents like Jorgenson agree with that idea, but not at the expense of a shorter year.
“I definitely think class size is an issue and reducing class size is important,” she says, “but there needs to be something done to increase the school year as well.”
Jorgenson feels that the new schedule could make teachers feel rushed in the curriculum, which she fears could impact a student’s education. “If they have that many fewer days in the school year, they’re going to have to really push the kids, and sometimes kids fall in the cracks,” she says.
Torrey says many parents in the district have concerns similar to Jorgenson’s, but that this is the best the district can do with the money it has.
“We’d love to go back to the full 191 days of school, but we do not have the money and we must balance the budget,” he says.