By Jim Hagerty
The Rockford Public School District 205 Education Committee voted to keep high school honors courses in next year’s curriculum Monday, Dec. 13, as dozens of parents, students and teachers gathered at district headquarters.
Championing what District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield addressed in her State of the Schools speech last week, the Education Committee recommended that courses must contain 29 or 30 students to be offered.
Education Committee Chairman Bob Evans said classes with only a handful of students will not be cost-effective.
“We can’t afford to offer classes with five or 10 or 15 students, so it (would) have to have enough students to justify it budgetarily,” Evans said. “That’s not my preference, but that’s essential. ”
Evans said the board is looking for ways to compromise by keeping honors courses in place while remaining accountable to the district’s budgetary responsibilities.
According to projections, the district will face a $50 million deficit going into the 2011-2012 school year.
Sheffield said last week that honors courses are not as rigorous as they should be.
Curriculum Director Tracy Stevenson-Olson noted that although honors course materials differ from those in general education classes, the courses are generally the same.
Evans and Education Committee member Jude Makulec said eliminating classes because they aren’t rigorous enough isn’t warranted.
“Let’s work with that,” Evans said. “Let’s build that difference rather than say ‘Because it’s not good enough, let’s destroy it.’ Let’s build on it and enhance it. There has to be honors courses.”
Enrollment numbers, according to the committee, showed that most honors classes contain between 20 and 30 students. Others are smaller.
The Education Committee’s recommendation will be brought to the school board for a vote at tonight’s open meeting.
The Rockford Board of Education will meet tonight at 7 p.m., at the District 205 Administration Building, 201 S. Madison St.