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Discussion on “Leveling”

This morning, Tuesday, October 15th, 1st through 12th grade students in the School District of Philadelphia have been in class for a month and a half (30 school days).  Typically, by this date, students would be assigned to a homeroom for the duration of the school year.

In years past, on October 1st, the district has taken a snapshot of the grades and schools where every student is enrolled on that day.  Then, the process of “leveling” takes place to ensure that class sizes do not exceed the limits in teachers’ contracts.  The October 1st numbers are used to determine the need for teachers within each school, and additional teachers are hired, as needed, for example, in schools where the surrounding community is growing.  For the rest of the school year, funding for teachers’ salaries is tied to the school district landscape exactly as it was in the October 1st snapshot, even if situations change: students may transfer to another school, leave the district, etc.

This year, when the Philadelphia district is severely underfunded, the leveling process looks more like a “collapsing” process: schools are more likely to lose teachers through the process, rather than hiring new teachers, creating new homerooms and reducing class-size and overcrowding.  After 24 schools were closed in June 2013, and their students were reassigned, the leveling process grown more complex.

According to news articles yesterday and today, the district has pushed back the deadline to complete “leveling” to Monday, October 28th, 2013 (2 weeks from today).  Many students can expect to have a new teacher in November, along with different classmates and a larger class size.