By LINDA LOBECK
KINGSFORD - With the start of the new school year a week away, the Breitung Township Schools Board of Education is keeping a close eye on the class sizes in all grades to see if more staff needs to be added.
Supt. Craig Allen updated the board on the numbers, which he stressed are still fluctuating. The district expects to have some kindergarten and early kindergarten changes with the registration today.
At Monday's meeting he noted that they have 1,749 students registered and at the end of last year, they had 1,696, which is a increase of 53 students. But Allen cautioned that they are always some students who haven't had their records requested each year that have left the district. They find out for sure when classes start on Sept. 3.
"At this point, things are still sketchy with the total number of students in each grade. We expect some enrollments with kindergarten registration, but overall we are looking at pretty decent numbers this year - above what we expected," Allen said.
And some of the class numbers they have right now may change significantly one way or the other by the first day of school. Average class sizes right now show 24 students in each class from early kindergarten through the second grade, 27 in third grade classes, 31 in fourth grade classes and 26 in fifth grade.
Board member Kate Thomas said that the board is committed to class sizes that bring about optimal learning. That is why they posted and took applications to add someone to the elementary school staff. With this addition, the fourth grade class sizes will be 25 students in each section.
A recommendation by the personnel committee at Monday's meeting was made to hire Samantha Edwards for this elementary teaching position moving around some of the teachers at Woodland. She will be teaching second grade this year.
"She is a very strong candidate for us and has a reading specialist endorsement," said Allen.
The board unanimously approved Edwards for the position.
Thomas noted that they will also be keeping a close eye on kindergarten numbers during registration and depending on how many registered whether they need additional staff at that level, too.
Other positions open include a special education teacher and a long-term social studies substitute at the middle school.
"We are all concerned with keeping the numbers down here in classes. If we need to hire additional people, that's what we'll do. We just have to wait and watch to see where those numbers end up at," said Board President Charles Novara.
The board also hired two elementary educational assistants with a seven hour a day position going to Kim Massicotte and a 6 3/4 hour position at day to Joseph Pontbriand.
Due to the close start of the school year, the board gave its approval to hire a computer technology teacher from the three applicants received. Only one applicant is certified in this area and will be interviewed today. If the interview team makes the recommendation to hire this person and Allen feels it is a solid candidate, then the board is giving its approval to hire that person.
Allen said this is a position that was made vacant at the high school when Jacqueline Leiker left to take a position at Norway-Vulcan Area Schools. The board also accepted Leiker's letter of resignation.
With this pre-approval by the board, they can hopefully get the new teacher involved with the professional development scheduled on Wednesday for all staff, Allen added.
A resignation was also received by Sue Strang, a middle school special education teacher. She will be retiring on Aug. 31.
If possible, the administration is hoping to have that position filled for the first day of school.
At the meeting, Allen also went over a traffic flow map of the changes they are making at Woodland Elementary School this year.
"We are looking at ways to alleviate the problems we have with traffic at the beginning and end of the school day," he said.
Vehicles will now be entering from the middle gate with drop offs at the west end and by the child care center. The current entrance will only be used by buses that will go around the school to drop off students and along with other traffic will go out the south side exit onto Pyle Drive. In the afternoon, the buses will arrive at 2:45 p.m. and come in the exit, go around to pick up students and then back out the exit, Allen explained.
Signage will be up directing the parents as well as staff and buses where to go as well as barricades to show where they can't park.
"This will hopefully alleviate the traffic flow problem areas. I anticipate this new traffic flow will work better than what we've had in the past," Allen said.
In other action, the board:
- Heard from Allen that with the summer free meal program ending, food service director Vicki Waterman reported that there were 21,035 meals served to children this summer. This is an increase of 6,470 meals from the previous year.
- Approved five Schedule B assignments. These assignments include Nancy deKoster as drama adviser; Nancy Jayne as yearbook adviser, Terri Rugg as Saturday school supervisor and SADD adviser; Lisa Hosie as the junior class adviser; and Kelly Bianco as the student council adviser.
Linda Lobeck's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.