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Class sizes expand in NR schools

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education New Richmond, 54017

New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Next year's enrollment numbers might force the New Richmond School board to hire three additional teachers or face class sizes of up to 33 kids.

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Frank Norton, principal at Hillside Elementary, met with the school board Monday night to discuss the potential problem.

According to Norton's numbers, five additional classes need to be added between Starr Elementary and Hillside Elementary. Starr needs additional teachers in kindergarten, first and fourth grade; Hillside needs additional classes in first and fourth grade.

The news isn't all bad, Norton said. In investigating the problem, Norton found that some grades had the potential to have too many teachers. For example, Starr Elementary's second grade classes have the potential to have only 17 kids per classroom for the 2009-10 school year. If one of those teachers is moved to another grade, the kids would be condensed into three classes with 23 students. The school board's preferred class size for second grade is 22 students per class.

Four changes are suggested at Starr Elementary:

  • Adding a fifth kindergarten class. If left with four classes, there would be 22.75 students per class; the additional teacher brings the number down to 18.2 kids per class.
  • Adding a first grade class. If left with three classes, there would be 29.33 kids per class; the additional teacher brings the number down to 22 kids per class.
  • Subtracting a second grade class. If left with four classes, there would be 17 kids per class; by subtracting a class the number would be brought to 23 kids per class.
  • Adding a fourth grade class. If left with three classes, there would be 28 kids per class; the additional teacher brings the number down to 21 kids per class.

    At Hillside Elementary, three changes are needed:

  • Adding a first grade class. If left with four classes, there would be 27.5 kids per class; the additional teacher brings the number down to 22 kids per class.
  • Adding a fourth grade class. If left with three classes, there would be 33.66 kids per class; the additional teacher brings the number down to 25.25 kids per class.
  • Subtracting a fifth grade class. If left with four classes, there would be 18.5 kids per class; by subtracting a class the number would be brought to 24.67 kids per class.

The numbers are constantly changing and are updated on a daily basis, Norton said. Open enrollment and holding students back also affect the numbers, he said.

Paperjack is the only elementary school that doesn't need a change, Norton said.

One option could be asking parents to voluntarily transfer their students to Paperjack Elementary, said Chris Skoglund, board member. Paperjack generally has smaller class sizes.

Morrie Veilleux, district administrator, said the school board might not be ale to make a decision until the state budget is finalized in July.

"July seems pretty close to the 2009-10 school year," said Greg Gartner, board member. "Will we have enough qualified applicants then?"

Generally, the school district gets about 200-230 applications annually, Norton said.

With one elementary teacher retiring this year, the district will post that position immediately and see how many qualified applications are submitted.

Just because the school's need additional teachers doesn't mean they're nearing capacity, Veilleux said. The elementary schools can house roughly 400 additional kids.

"With a growth of 12 kids each year, it will take awhile to get there," Norton said.

In other business Monday, the school board:

  • Approved two new courses at the high school -- accelerated English and pre-algebra.
  • Approved the grant application for the proposed charter school. The grant would secure $10,000 for planning and if the school board decides to move forward, another $40,000 could be awarded for starting the charter school.
  • Approved the 2007-09 teacher contract. Only four or five schools have yet to approve a contract, Veilleux said.

"It took a long time but people were respectful as we worked through difficult issues," Gartner said.

The new contract is similar to the previous one but has some changes as it relates to salaries, retirement and insurance.

The total package increase over the next two years is about 3.8 percent.

"All in all if you look at the total package increase, we'll be one of the lower in the conference," said Veilleux.

As far as salary increases are concerned, the district will be about average, he said.

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