USD 410 Board of Education agreed to a request by Hillsboro Elementary School Principal Evan Yoder to search for an additional second-grade teacher for the 2012-13 school year.
Yoder’s quarterly principal’s report highlighted the growth of enrollment at the elementary school. In the summer, the district expected only about 248 students at the elementary school. The actual count on Sept. 20 was 261. As of March 7, the actual number of students had grown to 276.
The largest grades are kindergarten and first grade, with 49 students each, but both of those grades are divided into three classes. This year’s second-grade has 47 students. Even with a pair of experienced second-grade teachers in Debbie Dick and Rachel Winter, and with the help of Marilyn Ratzlaff as a full-time aide who splits time between the two classrooms, class sizes of 23 and 24 are unwieldy at second grade.
Yoder said he would like to add a third second-grade teacher to keep class sizes for those current kindergartners and first-graders smaller for an extra year.
“While behaviors typically improve as students progress through elementary school, second grade is still a transitional year where it’s critical to instill the type of ‘learning attitude’ we desire,” Yoder wrote in a handout for the board. “Large class numbers make this more difficult.”
There are other changes that make a third teacher desirable, he said. The current first-grade class has a higher than usual portion of English-as-a-second-language and high-needs students. Yoder also highlighted that the longer school day installed this year and loss of separate art instruction reduce the time teachers have for planning.
Later in the meeting, board member Mark Rooker said he understood Yoder’s concerns about age and class size, but the question was whether the district could afford another teacher.
Superintendent Steve Noble showed budget projections for next year, including an estimated $46,500 for salary, taxes, and benefits for a teacher, based on a bachelor’s degree plus 10 hours of continuing education and 10 years of experience. Noble said that based on enrollment projections and what he is hearing about school funding from the Kansas Legislature, he expects the district could afford to add a third teacher for second grade.
Noble said he was planning to include the position in budgeting for 2012-13, so why not begin a teacher search? He said his discussions with Yoder indicated it could be a fairly brief search for a teacher who would be a good fit.
In other business:
- Hillsboro Middle School Principal Greg Brown highlighted activities at the school in his quarterly report. The school recently had more than 500 visitors for the middle school league music festival. Middle school wrestling season ended Thursday with a quadrangular at the school. Kyle Unruh and Savannah Unruh were pages at the Kansas House of Representatives on Thursday, and Marah Franz, Kalen Moss, and Jared Dyck will be pages for the Kansas Senate on March 28.
- Middle school state assessments are soon. Brown said testing will be at times when the related classes are usually held, to avoid creating scheduling problems.
- Hillsboro High School Principal Max Heinrichs gave an overview of the school’s progress with career and technical education pathways. The school is one of just two in the state with 14 career pathways approved, and work is ongoing to add six more. The district is seeking grants to add biochemistry and engineering pathways. “We want to put in that biochemistry and have it be cutting edge,” Heinrichs said.
- HHS is in the running to be the site for the state chess tournament next school year. Heinrichs said the size of the tournament would fill all of the district’s gyms.
- The board approved a calendar for 2012-13 with 169 days of school and eight staff development and work days. School will begin Aug. 23. The first semester will end Dec. 21. Classes will resume Jan. 3 and continue to May 21. Spring break will be March 16 to 24.
- The board met in closed session for 20 minutes to discuss personnel matters. On return to open session they accepted the retirement of middle school custodian Doris Maltbie, effective April 20. The district will attempt to fill the vacancy before Maltbie’s retirement.
- The board met in closed session for approximately 10 minutes to discuss teacher negotiations.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be 7 p.m. April 9.