The kindergarten class at Hollywood School this year will have at least 25 students now that Riverside Elementary School District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye has approved the requests of four families who live in the Hollywood neighborhood to transfer their incoming kindergarten students to Hollywood School.

Originally four kindergarten students from the Hollywood neighborhood were assigned to Central School in Riverside because of the district’s class-size policy, which limits kindergarten classes to no more than 20 students.

At its Aug. 15 meeting the District 96 school board will have to formally vote to waive its class-size policy, as it has done many times in the past.

“All the kindergartners who requested a transfer back to Hollywood were transferred back to Hollywood,” Ryan-Toye said. 

Ryan-Toye said that she granted the requests to transfer the four Hollywood students because she was compelled by the stories of the families.

Two of the parents, Katie Walsh and Abby Troyer, requesting transfers to Hollywood made their cases in powerful and emotional terms at the school board’s July 18 meeting saying that they didn’t want their children to have to cross First Avenue and wanted them to go to school with other kids from their neighborhood.

Walsh, who herself attended Hollywood School, said on July 30 that she was gratified by Ryan-Toye’s decision.

“We feel very relieved that Dr. Ryan-Toye seems to have viewed the situation as more than just a numbers problem and a balancing act,” Walsh told the Landmark in a text message. 

Ryan-Toye said one Hollywood family requested that their child be assigned to Central.

The superintendent said she is looking into assigning a teacher’s aide to the Hollywood kindergarten class or perhaps even adding another certified teacher to the class.

“We’re looking at different instructional resources there,” Ryan-Toye said.

Ryan-Toye said that she is not especially concerned that a class of 25 students is too large for kindergarten.

“I think as long as we make sure that we have the right level of adult support and intervention in instruction then I’m OK with it,” Ryan-Toye said.

No other kindergarten class in District 96 in the coming year will have more than 18 students. 

Hollywood is a one section-per-grade school and the third- and fourth-grade classes at Hollywood this year will also have 25 students each.

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