Monday night, the school district announced it had added two more teaching positions to Waterford’s elementary schools, paid for with money already within the
Superintendent Jerome Belair said he added a fifth-grade teacher at Oswegatchie Elementary School and a kindergarten teacher at Great Neck Elementary School to combat ballooning class sizes. The problem was many students registered in Waterford at the last minute, and again dozens of students fled the Friendship School to enter Waterford’s public schools, Belair said.
“We know projecting the enrollment isn’t an exact science,” he said. “I don’t know how we could have predicted this.”
The school district had budgeted a contingency teacher position, so that will pay for one spot, he said. The second spot will be paid for after a long-time teacher retired in August, and the spot was filled with a teacher at lower pay, and the district saved money on unemployment, he said.
The district will hire teachers who were , as they are still on the recall list, Belair said.
Belair said 35 elementary school students registered for Waterford schools in one day alone last week. The fifth grade ,” with class sizes as large as 25 at Oswegatchie Elementary School, and after the mass registration it jumped to three classes of 26, 26 and 25 at the school, he said.
By adding another teacher, there will be four fifth-grade classes at Oswegatchie with class sizes of 19, 19, 19 and 20, according to documents provided by the district. The other two elementary schools will still have larger class sizes in fifth grade, with Great Neck Elementary School having three classes of 25 students and Quaker Hill Elementary School having three classes of 24 students, according to district documents.
“Twenty-five is manageable and doable,” Belair said. “Is it ideal? No, but it is manageable and doable.”
In kindergarten, 35 students who were set to go to kindergarten at the skipped out on their commitment and will attend Waterford’s schools, Belair said. This comes after the families of 47 students made the same decision last year, he said. Patch will have more on that soon.
That would have left two kindergarten classes in Great Neck School with 22 and 21 students, which Belair said “are numbers that we just don’t follow here in Waterford.” He added another kindergarten teacher at Great Neck, so there will be three classes of 14, 14 and 15 students, according to district documents.
The other two elementary schools have kindergarten class sizes between 16 and 19, according to district documents. The district tries to have smaller classes in kindergarten and first grade, and then allows for slightly larger classes in older grades.
Belair said the staff will continue to monitor the fifth-grade classes, particularly if more students move into the district. He said the district held student registration earlier this year, “and I’m really glad we did.”