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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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School addresses overcrowded classes; problems linger for students and staff

STUFFY+STAIRWELLS+-+Along+with+overcrowded+hallways%2C+students+had+to+deal+with+crowded+classrooms.+According+to+administration%2C+much+of+the+overcrowding+has+been+resolved.
Francesca Purificato
STUFFY STAIRWELLS – Along with overcrowded hallways, students had to deal with crowded classrooms. According to administration, much of the overcrowding has been resolved.

The beginning of the 2023-24 school year presented teachers and students with challenges from overcrowded classrooms, some containing over 60 students. Despite the issue being resolved in the following weeks, students and teachers  are still feeling the effects of this overcrowding.

Nathan Sparks, a first year science teacher at Jackson-Reed, had 67 students enrolled in one of his Environmental Science classes on the first day of school. Once administration was alerted, he was asked to move his class to the auditorium for the remainder of the period.

Sparks noticed both a change in student performance and his ability to keep students engaged. “[In a large class] you’re not seen in the way you are in smaller classes,” he said. 

By September 11, the class got down to 33, and students who had been removed from Sparks’ class are now being taught Environmental Science by Emily Sullivan, who is teaching the class for the first time this year.

Social Studies teacher Nicki Felmus also encountered similar issues within the first week of school, with a U.S. Government class that had 60 students on the roster. By the fourth day of school, this number had risen to 67. In the following weeks, the class was split into two, which resolved the overcrowding.

Felmus explained the effect this had on both her and the students in her classes. “I firmly believe the first week of school is the most important time of the school year. You get to set expectations, you get to build community, and I feel like I lost that in my government classes.”

Junior Lauren Devine echoed Felmus’s sentiments, explaining how “overcrowded classrooms make the whole experience…kind of hectic.” Devine added that one of her classes didn’t have enough tables for all the students.

Extreme overcrowding was addressed in the first few weeks of school during the DCPS mandated 10-day period for schedule changes. “To address the unbalanced classes, we moved students into other sections or created additional sections when classroom space and teachers were available,” Principal Sah Brown explained.

In a LSAT meeting last month, Brown stated that presently, there were only 20 classes that were over 35 students, an improvement over last year’s 82. According to the Washington Teachers’ Union contract that was in place at the start of this school year, classes should not exceed 25 students. However, because of the overcrowded nature of the school, the cap was shifted to 35 students.

Much of the overcrowding was a result of the algorithm used in the online scheduling process that Jackson-Reed implemented last May. It placed students into classes without taking class size into account, filling some up past the capacity of 35. 

Camille Robinson, an assistant principal and the master scheduler, noted that one other factor leading to overcrowding was the excessive demand for senior classes. “There are those classes that every senior has to take, and we just don’t have that many offerings,” said Robinson.

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About the Contributors
Simon Holland
Simon Holland, Editor-in-Chief
Simon is one of two Editors-in-Chief, and if you start talking to him about RuPaul’s Drag Race, you’ll never escape that conversation. During the day, Simon can be found holed up in a corner of the library cranking through all his editing in one sitting, and after school, there’s a 99.9% chance he’s in the Black Box Theater, wishing he could see the sun.  
  • 2022-23: Style Editor
  • 2023-24: Editor-in-Chief
Isadora Groves
Isadora Groves, Editor-in-Chief
  • 2021-23: Junior Editor
  • 2023-24: News Editor
Gil Leifman
Gil Leifman, News Editor
  • 2023-24: Assistant News Editor
Francesca Purificato
Francesca Purificato, Managing Editor
  • 2021-22: Junior Editor
  • 2022-23: Features Editor
  • 2023-24: Managing Editor
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