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Glasnost, nyet... neyacnost, da!

If your school has small classrooms, you can't have so many of those offensive large classes. Test-score-wise, the preceptorial-sized classrooms didn't achieve better student learning, but no matter; since then all class sizes have shrunk, over the decades, until today when the then-special small-class size is now the national average.

State requirements for square foot/pupil and minimum classroom size haven't changed-Vermont for decades has had a minimum classroom size of 750 sq. ft., even as actual average class size has shrunk to below a dozen from the previous norm of 25-and, as you might reasonably expect, states which have shrunk classes while not shrinking classrooms (or lobby/corridor areas) are now posting higher total SF/P numbers. Most aren't, which explains why this year's SP&M new school size numbers by region are little changed from long-standing past norms: elementary, 125 SF/P; middle, 142; high, 156.

When I was first putting pencil to paper in school design in the late 1950s, the averages were 120, 140, and 160. But not now in Vermont, which shares the fairly unique New England predilection for more expansive (and expensive) buildings, with new construction for each of the three grade-groups showing averages of 155, 164, and 195 respectively. To the question, "How I can check the figures for my local schools?", the short answer is: You can't anymore.

The longer answer is that official state ed department and local district or SU data for individual schools showing actual square footage and official building capacity rating are no longer considered publicly-available information. They were, once: anyone could call the Superintendent's office, or the SED, to get such numbers, which were maintained there in a (somewhat) famous three-ring binder- a data page for each schoolhouse building in the state, and well-known locally as well.

All that past transparency ended in the mid-90's, when at a hearing on school costs in Montpelier when I referred to it, the then-SED legal counsel said, "Don't call us for such data. The Legislature has deprived us of funds to maintain the notebook any longer."

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