Construction may boost Burlingame class sizes 

Most schools are bracing for bigger classes because of monetary woes, but the Burlingame Elementary School District is more concerned about it happening because of construction.

It could be like a game of musical classrooms when the district’s six facilities — five elementary schools and one middle school — receive a $43 million upgrade. The improvements, funded by a voter-approved bond, subsequently increase class sizes, according to the district’s board of trustees president.

“It’s not really related to the budget,” board President Liz Gindraux said. “It’s more of a temporary situation. We haven’t even started our discussion on the budget, but I remain optimistic.”

In the past two fiscal years, the district has cut about $1.5 million out of its $19 million budget because of state reductions, and consequently increased class sizes for first-, second- and third-graders from 20 students to 23.

This year, the board is looking forward to a more than $2 million reserve to carry it and the district’s 2,400 students through the next round of slashes, as well as a parcel tax approved by voters Tuesday that racks in about $1.4 million a year.

However, that doesn’t solve how they will maneuver the classrooms while they build new facilities at two schools — Lincoln Elementary and McKinley Elementary — and perform other alterations that will require some classrooms to temporarily close.

It will be one of several issues brought up at the board’s study session today when members discuss how they are using the next set of funds from the $43 million facility bond.

The board will also consider whether it should use new classroom facilities at McKinley to expand its Chinese immersion program, which started with kindergartners but has in turn taken up another classroom as the students progress each school year.

Right now, the program is only available up to the second grade, but next school year the district will need a classroom for its third-graders.

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