Several Cassingham parents told the Bexley school board Monday night that they weren't pleased with a decision to increase second-grade class sizes.

Several Cassingham parents told the Bexley school board Monday night that they weren't pleased with a decision to increase second-grade class sizes.

Superintendent Mike Johnson said he is consolidating three classrooms with 14 students into two classrooms, one with 23 students and one with 24 students and hiring an instructional aide. He said the district tries to maintain a class size of 20 to 22 in kindergarten through third grade.

"Should they get larger than 22 the superintendent will consider adding a teacher aide," he said. "If the class size is 25, then we consider adding a teacher."

Board president Joan Fishel said the district works hard to balance the interest of class size with fiscal responsibility.

"There has not been a single August where this has come up," she said.

Cassingham parent Dana Adler said the district made a last-minute decision in an effort to hide an unpopular decision, thereby putting parents on the defense. She said parents wished the decision had been made earlier so there would have been more conversation.

Adler said she was disappointed the administration is increasing class sizes to show fiscal responsibility. She said she supports the November levy. The school district has a 6.5-mill levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.

"I don't appreciate children being the sacrificial lamb to win the vote," Adler said.

Parent Elena Irwin said giving an instructional aide his or her own classroom means second-graders will have more than one teacher teaching core subjects in more than one classroom.

"This is essentially moving away from the self-contained classroom, which is the cornerstone of primary education in Bexley," she said.

Parent Kimberly Martin was concerned about teachers managing a class size of 24 instead of 16. Teachers will use most of their time to deal with crowd control and classroom disruptions, taking away valuable teaching and learning time, she said.

"Smaller class sizes allow teachers to get to know each child," she said. "In a larger setting it is difficult to spend time with each child. How will the quiet children be heard?"

Johnson acknowledged concerns about qualifications for the instructional aide. He said each time the district advertises for an aide, it gets a qualified teacher, even though the aide doesn't need to have a teaching license.

"I can't remember hiring an aide who was not a licensed teacher," he said, adding the aide at Cassingham is actually a part-time intervention specialist.

School board member Marlee Snowdon said before she became a board member she experienced a similar situation and now she's on the other side of the table. Her son was in a fourth-grade class with 26 students.

Snowdon said it is the board's responsibility to set policy and she was comfortable with existing class-size policy established in 2003. Most classes have no more than 21 students.

"These are small classes, they really are, in context with the rest of the world," she said.

Fishel said the class-size policy was adopted in 2003, but the policy dates back more than 20 years. She said the board is not involved with the decision-making policy of when to add an extra classroom or instructional aide.

"The operational decisions are up to the superintendent," she said.