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Sixth kindergarten teacher to be added in Somerset

A sixth kindergarten teacher will be added as quickly as possible in the Somerset School District following a lengthy discussion and vote by the Somerset Board of Education at its Sept. 16 meeting.

The large number of children enrolled in kindergarten caught the school district by surprise. Elementary Principal Darren Kern said a number of students weren’t registered until the days before classes began. They were suddenly shocked to find they had 121 students for the five kindergarten sections.

The original board proposal was to add an aide position to each of the five classrooms to help with the large number of students. The five kindergarten teachers were in attendance and they were asked their opinions on which option they’d prefer.

The teachers said the choice was difficult because adding a new teacher would disrupt the routine the children had begun to develop in the opening weeks of the school year.

“Having 24 or 25 kiddos would make it hard to reach our goals and standards,” said teacher Brenda Tetzlaff. “It keeps going back to what’s best for the kids.”

The teachers said the addition of aides would border on being counterproductive, because they would have to teach the aides what is planned each day, taking away time that is already at a premium.

There were discussions on the logistics of finding another classroom and deciding upon kids for the new class. District Administrator Randy Rosburg said there are two first grade teachers now stationed in the old junior kindergarten classrooms. One of those classes will be moved to the first/second grade wing, into a classroom now used for special education. The special education class will be moved to a room off the commons that was utilized as a classroom in past years.

Tetzlaff said she was hired in a similar situation 17 years ago when the junior kindergarten program saw a sharp increase in student numbers.

“Once it happened, (the parents) were delighted to get their kids into smaller classrooms,” Tetzlaff said.

Board member Tammie Wishard said “it’s going to create an awful lot of work, but the end result is all what we’re looking for.”

Kern posted the job opening the day after the board meeting, with an ambitious goal of having the new teacher in place in three weeks.

Because of the large population in this class, the teacher that is hired could move up each year with the class. This large class enrollment will likely require an extra teacher each year in the elementary school.

Rosburg said the school board leaves a cushion in the school budget for contingencies such as this. He said $72,000 was budgeted for the position but said the teachers hired typically aren’t paid the budgeted total.

<span style="line-height: 1.538em;">Other News:</span>

<span style="line-height: 1.538em;">The annual Compass Awards were presented at the start of the board meeting. The Compass Awards are given at the start of each year to teachers who’ve shown strong leadership in their buildings. The recipient at the elementary level was Nancy Andersen. The middle school teacher honored was Andre Johnson. Honored at the high school was Jeanne Germain. Germain wore a large smile when she received the award, because she chose the original design for the award when she worked as Rosburg’s executive assistant before she became a teacher.</span>

<span style="line-height: 1.538em;">New school board student representative Hannah Rosentreter gave her first report to the board at the September meeting.</span>

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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