Cape schools welcomed 200 more students this year, according to the final unit count.
The unit count is based on the number of students in attendance by Sept. 30 of each year. It determines how much state funding school districts receive to pay for teaching and professional staff. Students with special needs who require more services and support staff earn additional units for the school.
With 5,861 students, Cape’s unit count is 473.52. That figure represents 22 new units and 218 more students than the 2018-19 school year.
Just as last year, Cape Assistant Superintendent Jenny Nauman said, the district’s biggest growth is from the Sussex Consortium.
Nauman said the Consortium’s 360 students equal 114.10 units. Last year, 308 students were enrolled in the Consortium program, accounting for 98.47 units. Most Consortium students attend the Lewes School; other students attend schools throughout the district.
Beacon Middle and Love Creek Elementary also saw growth, Nauman said. This year, Beacon’s 715 students equal 44.8 units; last year, the school had 683 students equalling 41.86 units.
This year, Love Creek’s 703 students equal 46.65 units. Last year, the school had 647 students and 43.80 units.
Nauman said a class-size waiver will not be needed because the district is meeting class-size standards.
“We fill every unit we qualify for with either a teacher, paraprofessional or other types of support directly to the schools,” Nauman said. “We look at each school to determine the highest need and make the best decision for our children, while at the same time making sure we are being fiscally responsible.”
Nauman said since early September, officials worked on a plan to tackle crowded fourth-grade classes at Love Creek. She said reading and math classes have no more than 25 students, but when CAP and special needs students return for science and social studies, there were about 30 students in class.
Rather than using a unit to solve the issue, Nauman said, an additional section of science and social studies was created with current teaching staff to reduce class sizes to 25 or less.
Nauman said the district and school team is also using a current kindergarten teacher at Love Creek to reduce class sizes to 19 or less students. Love Creek is at capacity and closed to school choice except for students already attending, siblings of students already attending, and children of staff, she said.
Nauman said officials will begin discussing options for a 2021-22 redistricting of all elementary and middle schools.
State funding pays for a specific number of teachers at each grade level. Classrooms should have one teacher per number of students in each classroom category:
Kindergarten to third grade: 16.2 (including special education students)
Fourth to 12th grade regular education: 20
Fourth to 12th grade basic special education: 8.4
Pre-kindergarten to 12th grade intensive special education: 6
Pre-kindergarten to 12th grade complex special education: 2.6