ARLINGTON -- An influx of families who have moved to Arlington and have children entering second grade has prompted Fisher Elementary to add a teacher prior to classes resuming in the fall.
Principal Deanne Lacoste said Wednesday 20 students were expected to enter second grade when summer break began, but the school is now anticipating 24 on the first day.
"There have been a number of families who have moved in, I would say in the last couple weeks," Lacoste said.
Referencing a Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union class size policy, the school board was unanimous in a decision to add a second, second grade classroom last week and move ahead in the process to hire another second grade teacher.
The policy states classes in kindergarten through Grade 3, when considered together, must average fewer than 20 students. The policy identifies the optimal class size for second grade to be 15 to 18 children. The minimum average class size in second grade is 12, which will be the average in the fall if the anticipated enrollment does not change.
Lacoste told the school board the elementary budget already includes half of the funds needed for an additional teacher from money originally designated for a half-time reading specialist. That position will move to the middle school full time in the fall, she said. The other half of the teacher salary will have to be found within the existing budget, but officials sounded confident funds are available.
In previous years, some classes have had up to 22 students and the school has put a paraprofessional in the classroom to help the teacher, but Lacoste said that when the numbers get as high as 24 there is a need for two teachers.
The additional class will require some rearranging of rooms as there was no vacant space in Fisher last year. Lacoste said the plan is for two special education classrooms to be combined in order to make room for the additional second grade class.
The school will also have to redo class assignments for the second grade students who were all assigned to the same class when school let out in June. Lacoste expects to mail new classroom assignments within a week after collaborating with the current second grade teacher Shirley Casey.
In addition to second grade, Lacoste said children who will enter other grades have also moved to Arlington this summer, which will increase enrollment elsewhere as well. No other classes are in danger of being split, she said.
There will also be up to 15 additional students at the school in the fall because of Fisher's expanded pre-kindergarten. The school board decided last fall to expand its pre-K program from one class of up to 15 students to two classes in order to accommodate more children. At this time, Lacoste said, there are 27 children from Arlington or Sandgate expected to enter pre-K in the fall, leaving three slots still available.
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