• Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Enrollment, Staffing and Funding for 2017-18


    Why did Hemingway not allow online enrollment until August?

    Online registration and enrollment began for the entire district on Monday, August 7.  Before registration for a new school year can begin, student records for the old school year need to be updated and closed to finish the year.  That process begins in June and continues through July.

    Why didn’t the district know ahead of time that enrollment would be down in one school and up in another school?

    The district held preschool and Kindergarten registration in April.  Typically Hailey Elementary has low Kindergarten enrollment in the spring and then it slowly grows over the summer with the numbers filling out right as school starts.  That did not happen this year.  

    Why is the district moving a teacher?

    Hailey is 40+ students under enrolled for the resources that were allocated. Hemingway is 33+ students over enrolled at the elementary level.  The district reallocated the position to Hemingway.

    Why is the district moving a teacher from Hailey when large class sizes existed in 3rd grade two years ago and additional teachers were not hired?

    Two years ago, Hailey overall enrollment was on par with the budgeted allocation so no additional resources were provided. The school has the choice of how to use these resources. The third grade classes were pushing up against 25 students, the level at which policy recommends looking at additional resources.  The school chose to allocate more paraprofessional support to the third grade classes rather than rearrange classes within the school.

    What are neighborhood schools?

    Neighborhood schools in the Blaine County School District are schools that give priority enrollment to students who live within the transportation boundaries of the respective schools.  They are Ernest Hemingway STEAM School, Hailey Elementary and Bellevue Elementary.  Alturas Elementary was approved by the Board of Trustees as a magnet school, which means that it can enroll students from Hailey and Bellevue.  Alturas Elementary holds a lottery for enrollment in Kindergarten every spring.  In addition Ernest Hemingway STEAM School holds a lottery for the single strand of Dual Immersion offered at the school.  

    Does the district provide bussing for South Valley students to Hemingway?

    There is a bus that has to travel from the transportation department at the Community Campus to Ketchum every morning to bring students south to Wood River Middle School, Wood River High School and Silver Creek High School.  The bus stops at the Hailey Park n’ Ride at 6:48 a.m. to take students to Hemingway.

    Can any student enroll in Hemingway?

    Any student living outside the boundary of a neighborhood school can enroll as long as space is available.  If a grade level is full, the schools may maintain a waitlist.

    Is there a waitlist for Hemingway?

    Some classes at Ernest Hemingway STEAM School are full.  Students, in grades K to 5 and with no older siblings already in the school, outside the boundaries are denied enrollment once classes are full.

    How is staffing at schools decided?  Who are the decision makers?

    The district uses a funding model based on equity. What does this mean?  Funding follows students and student need.  Funding is allocated equally for general education classrooms as well as additional funds based on numbers of students needing special education support, English Language Learning support, reading support and Gifted and Talented Education support.  Funding and staff allocations follow students.  Once staff are distributed equitably according to the funding model, it is the principal’s decision to assign staff positions in their building.

    What is the class size policy?

    Class size policy recommends considering additional resources when K, 1, and 2 classes reach 20 students.  These additional resources may be a teacher or additional paraprofessional support.  Class size policy recommends considering additional resources for grade 3, 4, and 5 when classes reach 25. When secondary classes reach 30 students it is recommended that additional teachers be added or students reassigned.  When class size drops under 15 it is recommended that a position be considered for elimination with exceptions for special programs.

    How are schools funded?

    Blaine County School District is funded by a combination of funds from state income and sales tax, as well as local property tax.  The General Fund is used for staff, supplies, utilities and professional development.  ⅔ of the General Fund comes from local property tax known as the Budget Stabilization Levy. The Budget Stabilization Levy is fixed and does not increase or decrease based on property values.  ⅓ of the General Fund comes from state income and sales tax and is based on average daily attendance.  The Plant Facility Levy, separate from the General Fund, is for the construction, furnishing and equipping of schools and/or the improvement to any existing building

    Is Hemingway going to expand and add on to the school?

    Expansion to Hemingway depends on a vote of the Board of Trustees.

    Why are my kids on the bus for so long?  They leave Hemingway at 2:30 and don’t get home until 3:50.

    One of our busses was overcrowded and thus all 3 busses left late last week.  Students have been assigned different bus schedules so the situation has been resolved and the busses are leaving on time.  

    How much has been saved by reallocating a teacher from one school to the other?

    The savings come from not hiring additional staff.

    What is the evidence re: class size and effectiveness?

    There are well over a 100 studies on the effectiveness of class size with a range of outcomes. Depending on the study, class size can be argued as a variable in student achievement or having no impact.  Regardless of the study, the outcomes of the study should have a standard deviation of .4 or higher in order to have confidence that the variable being studied is truly impactful and not an error of measure.  While there are some studies that indicate reducing class size leads to improved outcome, there are many more studies that do not support this claim. John Hattie (2009) reviewed 164 studies on class size and found effect sizes of -.04 to .34, all below the confidence level that class size has an impact on student outcomes.  He summarizes his meta-analysis of these 164 studies as follows, “It appears that the effects of reducing class size may be higher on teacher and student work-related conditions, which then may or may not translate in effects on student learning.”

    Class Size Matters, an organization that supports smaller class sizes, frequently uses the meta analysis of Glass and Smith (1979) and cited again by Mathis (2016) to support their position for smaller classes.  However, even this meta-analysis only cites one study with an effect size greater than .4 with all of the rest of the studies having effect sizes of -.011 and.387.  In their analysis there is little to no difference for student outcomes with class sizes between 20 and 40 at the elementary level..  When class sizes drop to 10 or less there is a difference in student outcomes. The difference found for student outcomes in class sizes between 20 and 40 was greater for small classes at the secondary level.


    Glass, G.V. & Smith, M.L. (1979). Meta-analysis of research on class size and achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 1 (1), 2-16.

    Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement, p. 85-88. Routledge, New York.

    Mathis, W. J. (2016). The effectiveness of class size reduction. University of Colorado, Boulder National Education Policy Center.

    Why aren’t the reserve positions being used?

    One of the reserve positions was used for the Wood River Middle School and the other will continue to be held in reserve in the event that overall district enrollment numbers increase significantly.  The Board directed that reserve positions be used very sparingly and only if enrollment increased above projections. Overall enrollment is only slightly above projections.  Elementary enrollment is below budgeted projections.  Secondary is above budgeted projections.

    Why wasn’t every Kindergarten parent informed of the change in Kindergarten at Hailey Elementary?

    The District made the decision to reallocate staff on August 30 at the end of the day after evaluating enrollment data from all schools.  Principal Biggers met with his staff on August 31 to gain their input on how to handle the new allocation for Hailey Elementary.  A letter was written, translated and distributed on September 1.  On September 1, 118 phone calls were successful, 136 emails were delivered, and 23 text messages were successfully delivered.  It is important that parents opt in to General messages on Skylert through Skyward and that they update their contact information every time it changes.  

    Additional questions and answers added Monday, September 11.

    The district was told that there would be more students enrolled at Hemingway than the district had projected, why didn't the district hire a teacher ahead of time?

    The district was informed by multiple schools that they anticipated their enrollment would be greater than what the district projected.  However, once school started, only Hemingway at the elementary level actually exceeded the district's projections.  Had the district acted on the information from other schools, the district would now have at least three more teachers than necessary.  

    Additional questions and answers added Monday, November 13.

    Why did the district decide to go forward with Hemingway 6 grade when it didn’t meet the required class size policy? Why was Hemingway middle school initially launched without the required 44 students budgeted for in the spring budget?

    Hemingway sixth grade enrollment was significantly less than expected, despite having parents do a paper enrollment/commitment form last spring. This program is designed to be a middle school program with teachers who are content specialists teaching the different content. Last spring 45 families had committed to the program, completing a pre-enrollment form. However, when school started, many families that had previously committed to sixth grade did not show up. After conversations with individual trustees, the administration decided to keep our commitment to the students who did show up for sixth grade for the current year and reevaluate the program next spring to determine if it is feasible to continue.

    Why have 2.5 staff positions been shifted away from other schools - specifically overloading student numbers in WRMS Math and English classes?

    Wood River Middle School was allocated the additional resource of 1 Full Time Equivalency (FTE).  The WRMS Building Leadership Team, consisting of administration, teachers and staff, will decide how to use that resource to best serve students.  Average class size for English and Math classes at WRMS is 21.  Class enrollment in English and Math classes ranges from 18-27.  

    General education teacher allocations are calculated using a formula that is slightly below the number listed in policy for when to consider the need for additional resources, since it is an average and there will be both smaller and larger classes. A class size of 18 is used for grades K to 2 and a class size of 23 for grades 3 to 5. At the secondary level the formula includes a class size of 23 to allow for smaller core classes (Math, English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies) and for specialty classes (such as Certified Technical Education or advanced opportunities) that may have fewer students selecting these options. These formulas are established in January or February of each year’s budget cycle.

    Why not teach STEAM for grades K-5 only and not extend to a middle school program?

    That is one of the options the Superintendent presented to the Board of Trustees for consideration in February, 2017.  The Board of Trustees voted to expand the school to 6 grade.

    What is the funding formula and how does it address students with special needs?

    Schools are allocated general classroom teachers by using a formula that factors class size of 18 for primary grades and 23 for intermediate and secondary core classes. Schools then have the flexibility to allocate those teaching positions as they best see fit such as creating smaller classes at a specific grade level due to student needs or providing for speciality elective classes at the secondary level. Special education staff are allocated based on the number of minutes to be served on all of the Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) of the students assigned to particular building. English Language Development teachers and paraprofessional  are assigned based on the numbers of students needing these services in each building. Reading teachers are assigned based on the number of K to3 students not meeting the reading benchmarks as measured by Idaho Reading Indicator.

    What is the plan going forward to assure us we will not have another class of 6th or 7th graders that ends up 50% behind what was required?

     The Board of Trustees will make a decision on or before June when the budget for the next fiscal year is approved.  

    What percentage of Hemingway STEAM School is from beyond the boundaries?

     It is difficult to determine exact numbers.  Currently the district does not have bus routing software to track attendance at schools from students who live beyond boundaries.  All BCSD schools, including Carey, serve students outside of their boundaries. Students outside of the school boundaries may enroll as long as there is space available and the parents are willing to ensure the child is able to get to and from school on time.