Class sizes at some Southington schools are higher than anticipated after late enrollment this August, but members of the Board of Education have taken action in an effort to make sure that higher enrollment will not affect the quality of education for students.
Board members voted unanimously on Thursday to approve the hiring of three full-time literacy tutors for the fifth-grade level and two part-time positions at the kindergarten level to address “hot spots” where class sizes have grown in the district. The tutors will serve to help provide additional one-on-one instruction for students, School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi said.
“To give a sense of why it’s been so difficult to pin down enrollment, in the month of August alone we registered 112 youngsters,” Erardi said. “We’ve moved away from trends. There were 429 in kindergarten on opening day in 2011 and this year we had 439. In regard to those youngsters in our ELL program, there were 109 last year and this year we have 119.”
The full-time literacy positions were added to address fifth-grade class sizes in the 24- and 25-student range at the , and . Part-time positions were also added at the kindergarten level at and .
The biggest concern expressed by members of the Board of Education were centered on figures at Strong, where opening day projections showed 19 students per classroom.
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Those figures remained steady at 19 per class in the latest enrollment, provided by Southington Schools this week. There were also 18 students per class, with one class at 19 students, at the Derynoski Elementary School, the enrollment figures showed.
For a complete look at the enrollment figures, .
The increased enrollment left members of the Board of Education concerned and initially led to board member Terry Lombardi requesting an added position to address the growing enrollment. The number of students already exceeds the 18-student goal set for kindergarten in the district, .
“I’m satisfied with this plan,” Lombardi said Thursday. “We have added a half paraprofessional position already so with the half literacy tutor, our students should be receiving the one-on-one instruction time they deserve.”
“I really hope and expect that these highly skilled tutors are dedicated to these classrooms so every child receives the instruction time that our curriculum requires. I think it’s a win-win for the teachers, the kids and will lead to more instruction time.”
Erardi said the latest staffing additions will come at no cost to the district and are funded as part of a state grant related to “Title I” and “Title II.” The district still has the ability to add a second set of literacy tutors, which Erardi said would be added based on academic needs throughout the district. Those positions and the locations where tutors would be placed have not been determined.
Brian Goralski said the work of school administrators has made it easy for the Board of Education to monitor and adjust to needs, despite cutting 22 positions including 15 teachers as part of their 2012-13 budget.
“I am confident that work of administration is helping meet the needs of all our kids,” he said.
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