What is the functional capacity of the Weston Schools?

School Capacities

Functional capacity refers to the amount of space available for general classroom use and the extent to which core spaces can accommodate that population. Board of Education class size practices limit the extent to which general classrooms spaces can be occupied. Core spaces refer to cafeteria, gymnasium, library and special subject spaces. There must be a reasonable balance between both general classroom space and core facilities for a school to function adequately.

Weston High School

There are currently 21 classrooms available for general use at Weston high school, albeit some of these classrooms are specifically designed for particular functions (i.e., science rooms). There are also 3 modular classrooms that have been installed for use during the 2001-2002 school year. High school capacity is calculated with an average class size of twenty students. Some classes are larger and others are smaller. Small class sizes are primarily due to the needs of specific courses or the high degree of specialization of the course.

The functional capacity of Weston High School can be viewed as follows:

  • 21 general classroom X 20 students per class = 420 students per class period
  • 24 general classrooms (including 3 modular classrooms) X 20 students per class = 480 students per class period

This means that 480 students can be scheduled into general classrooms (including 3 modular classrooms) during any one period of the school day. Some students will be assigned to gym, art, music or other special subject areas during most periods of the school day.

Thus, the number of special subject spaces available extends the functional capacity of the school. The special subject spaces available at the high school are the gymnasium (2 teaching stations), art (2), band, choir, and technology education.

The added capacity can be computed as follows:

  • 7 special subject teaching stations X 20 students per period = 140 students

Conclusion:

Weston High School has a current functional capacity of about 600 students. Discussions with the high school principal have indicated that all spaces at the high school are currently scheduled for 85-100% utilization. Some students may not be fully scheduled each day and, consequently, not all classrooms will be in use 100% of the school day. A room utilization rate of 80-85% is regarded as efficient use of space at a high school. However, cafeteria space is limited to about 190 students per shift. Three lunch shifts are not adequate to accommodate the current student enrollment if all students choose to eat on campus.


Scheduling a high school is a complex and difficult task. The limitations of space exacerbate the problem of scheduling courses, particularly advanced, basic and specialty courses where only one section may be offered.

The Future:

Weston High School is expected to enroll about 900 students at its peak enrollment. With a class size average of about 20 students per class, 45 classrooms (including specialized classrooms) will be needed if all rooms are used at 100% capacity. A more realistic view is to consider classroom utilization at 85% capacity during the peak years which indicates a need for about 53 classrooms. The proposed additions and renovations to Weston high school propose about 47 classroom spaces.


The students currently in grades 3-6 will be enrolled in grades 9-12 of Weston High School during its projected peak enrollment year of 2007. There are 852 students currently enrolled in these elementary school classes. It is clear what school capacity is needed to accommodate these students when they are at the high school. It is likely that the enrollment will increase at to the 895 students projected in enrollment forecasts by the Connecticut state Department of Education.

Hurlbutt Elementary School

There are currently thirty-three regular classrooms at Hurlbutt Elementary School. Given a class size range of 20-24 students per class, the capacity of the school is between 660 and 792 students. The upper range of this capacity will be significantly affected by the grade levels assigned to this school. It makes good educational sense to reduce class sizes at the lower elementary grade levels because of the needs of students and the benefits of a lower student-teacher ratio at the beginning stages of learning to read and write. There are currently 996 students in grades pre-kindergarten through four attending this school in the fall of 2001 in 47 general classrooms. This is a class size average of 21.2 students per class.

There are twelve modular classroom units being placed alongside the Board of Education Office Building. They should become operational on or about September 10, 2001. These classrooms will essentially serve as an annex to Hurlbutt Elementary School. Eight (8) classrooms will contain kindergarten classes. Nine (9) were originally scheduled to be used as such but the kindergarten enrollment is about 26 students less than projected because parents either opted to send their children to private schools or withhold their entrance into kindergarten until next year.

One of the modular classrooms will be used as a faculty workroom. One classroom will be used for the Transitional Learning Center and another room was set aside for music and movement activities. The unassigned kindergarten classroom may be used by the Central Office for office, conference space and/ or other kindergarten related activities. There are 153 students currently scheduled for the eight kindergarten classes this fall.

The Future:

October 2001 enrollment projections prepared by Dr. Peter Prowda were used to calculate the number of classrooms required at each elementary grade level from 2004 through 2010 with a class size range of 20-24 and a class size range of 16-20. These projections assume a constant pre-kindergarten class enrollment of 18 students. It should be noted that additional pre-kindergarten classes should be considered, particularly if additional aged 3-5 students are identified for special services.

Number of Pre-Kindergarten-Grade Two Classrooms Needed

Class Size Average 20-24

YEAR NUMBER OF CLASSROOMS AVERAGE CLASS SIZE
2004 32 21.6
2005 32 23.0
2006 32 22.6
2007 32 22.7
2008 31 23.1
2009 32 22.3
2010 31 22.8

Class Size Averages 16-20

YEAR NUMBER OF CLASSROOMS AVERAGE CLASS SIZE
2004 36 19.1
2005 38 19.3
2006 38 19.4
2007 38 19.0
2008 36 19.8
2009 37 19.2
2010 36 19.5

Conclusions:

1. Hurlbutt Elementary School can function with a class size range of 20-24 students throughout the projection period. One-two additional classrooms would be available for use by special subject areas or special needs classes. The above projections assume a constant pre-kindergarten enrollment of 18 students requiring a single classroom.

2. The capacity of Hurlbutt Elementary School will limit the extent to which class size averages may be reduced. There are thirty-three general classroom spaces available for use. Reducing all grade K-2 class sizes significantly below twenty students does not appear to be feasible.

3. Hurlbutt Elementary School will function well, at or near capacity throughout the enrollment projection period. Flexibility in space use will be limited.

New Grade 3-5 Elementary School

The Weston Board of Education has proposed constructing a new grade 3-5 elementary school in order to meet the capacity needs of the Pre-kindergarten through grade eight student enrollment over the next decade. Reconfiguring the grade levels would remove one grade from the middle school and two grades from Hurlbutt Elementary School, creating a grades PreK-2, grades 3-5 and grades 6-8 organization. Student enrollments projected for the various grade levels comport to this configuration and require less major new construction and renovations. The new grades 3-5 school will have 33 general classrooms.

The October 2000 enrollment projections prepared by the CT State Department of Education were used to illustrate the impact of a class size range of 20-24 students and class size range of 16-20 students on the classrooms needed for this school.

Class Size Averages of 20-24

YEAR NUMBER OF CLASSROOMS AVERAGE CLASS SIZE
2004 30 21.8
2005 30 21.5
2006 31 22.0
2007 31 23.1
2008 34 22.5
2009 33 22.7
2010 33 22.9


Class Size Averages of 16-20

YEAR NUMBER OF CLASSROOMS AVERAGE CLASS SIZE
2004 34 19.2
2005 34 19.3
2006 35 19.2
2007 37 19.3
2008 40 19.1
2009 39 19.2
2010 40 18.9

Conclusions:

1. The educational specifications for the new elementary school call for thirty-three general classrooms. The enrollment projections indicate that this number of classrooms can accommodate students at the new school with a class size average of 20-24 during its peak enrollment years. Class sizes may need to be increased in 2008 as the school enrollment forecast exceeds the functional capacity of the school with a 20-24 student class size practice.

2. The new elementary school would not be able to accommodate a policy that called for a reduction of the average class size to the 16-20 range.

3. The new grades 3-5 school will relieve school capacity pressure at both Hurlbutt Elementary School and Weston Middle School.

Weston Middle School

Weston Middle School has 35 general classroom and four science labs in its main building complex. There are also ten modular classrooms located on the school site, nine of which are used for regular education classes and one of which is used for music classes.

The capacity of the school, given a class size average of twenty students per class, would be 780 students without the modular classrooms. The capacity of the school with the modular classrooms would be about 960 students.

The facility also has the following specific rooms for the functions indicated:
1. 4 Special Education classrooms
2. 2 Technology Education classrooms
3. 2 family and Consumer Sciences classrooms
4. 4 Art classrooms
5. 2 Computer labs
6. 1 Writing Lab
7. 1 Maintenance Office
8. 2 Music classrooms
9. 2 Gym teaching stations
10. 1 Cafeteria
11. 1 Library-Media Center

The Board of Education has planned for the continued use of Weston Middle School as a grade 6-8 school. Enrollment projections show the following student population in grades 6-8 through the remaining years of this decade.

Grade Six-Eight Enrollments

YEAR Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8 TOTAL
2004 219 242 238 699
2005 215 221 242 678
2006 242 217 221 680
2007 219 246 217 682
2008 217 221 245 683
2009 272 219 221 712
2010 252 275 219 746

The middle school appears to be within its capacity under the re-organization plan for the school district. However, there is a desire to implement the “team teaching” approach advocated by the middle school philosophy and concept. This requires the establishment of teaching teams to which a group of students are assigned for their core academic subjects.

Currently, there are five core subjects designated for the basic education program. This would require five juxtaposed teaching stations for each team. Middle schools function well when 80-100 students are assigned to each teaching team. This provides class size ranges from 18-24 to be scheduled in a practical manner. Given the enrollment projections for 2004-2010, most years would require two-three teaching teams per grade level. Some years may require three teaching teams for a specific grade or split grade teams in order to accommodate enrollment spikes (i.e., grade 6 in 2009). Therefore, the middle school would need a minimum of 35-40 general classrooms throughout the enrollment projection period.

Conclusions:

1. The Weston Public School enrollment is currently beyond the capacity of its school facilities.

2. Twenty-five modular classrooms are currently on campus as a temporary solution to the capacity problem.. These structures should be regarded as temporary, pending a long-term and permanent resolution of all facilities issues.

3. Additional modular classrooms may be feasible at each school to increase “classroom capacity” but this solution will not relieve pressure on already overburdened core facilities. This solution also postpones the basic need for additional, permanent classroom and core facilities.

4. Postponing the implementation of a permanent solution to the capacity and facilities problems will inevitably lead to higher costs.

5. The capacity and other facility issues need to be addressed in a K-12 solution. Fragmenting these projections in terms of time and scope will only increase their cost to the town and exacerbate existing problems.

6. Weston has a tradition of “excellence” in its educational programs. It is important to ensure that school facilities enable rather than impede the maintenance of this tradition.