Thursday August 22, 2013
This coming year, South Burlington’s elementary schools are facing class sizes that, in several grades, either come close to or exceed class capacity recommendations. A dialogue about how to handle the matter with an outcome that is amenable to parents, students, and teachers has been ongoing since spring. Some parents have expressed concern about the amount of attention their child will be able to receive in a larger class. School board members, while sensitive to this matter, have also been faced with tough decisions in a budget year that offers very little wiggle room. Two recent special school board meetings helped put the final plan for the teaching staff in place.
This year, Chamberlin School will have a Kindergarten class of 38 (two classrooms of 19 each), a 2nd grade of 42 (21, 21), and a 3rd grade of 47 (23, 24). Central School will have a 2nd grade of 63 (21, 21, 21) and Orchard will have a 5th grade of 53 (26, 27). Given these figures, made available at the July 11th school board meeting, David Young recommended and was approved to add a teacher at Chamberlin School. This teacher will move between the two kindergarten classes and the two third grade classes. Young’s other recommendations included adding a para-educator to 2nd grade at Central School, 5th grade at Orchard School, and 2nd grade at Chamberlin School.
Subsequently, a special meeting of the school board was held August 12, to consider approving an additional teacher for Rick Marcotte Central School. After more information was provided, the Board approved the new hire at a second special meeting held August 13th. Young explained, “This position was part of the budget plan to support a larger incoming Kindergarten class at RM Central School. I transferred a teacher from Chamberlin to RM Central School to fill that need; however the increasing numbers towards the end of this school year at Chamberlin in Kindergarten and 3rd grade warranted another teacher to go between Kindergarten and 3rd. The teacher that was expected to transfer to RM Central School wanted to remain at Chamberlin so the open position that was posted is for RM Central School to support the Kindergarten.”
At the July 11th meeting, Young tried to assuage the concerns of parents by letting them know that he and Chamberlin principal Holly Rouelle are cognizant of the concerns around grades K and 3 and believe the additional teacher is the appropriate way to address the situation at this time. He also assured parents he would be watchful as to how students are responding to the changes.
The school year begins Wednesday, August 28th.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent