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Bigger class size concerns parents

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Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Two parents expressed concerns to Greensburg Salem school directors this week about the effects that too many children in second-grade classes at Robert F. Nicely Elementary School might have on their learning.

Research shows the formative years of a child's education and teacher-student ratios are important, said Robin Mattes and Kristy Hostetler, both of whom are teachers in other districts.

“We really do love it,” Mattes said of the school. “But our kids, in second grade in particular, seem to get a lot higher class sizes than everybody else.”

Both classes started the year with one teacher for 28 students, they said. They requested that another person be hired.

“We do want you to realize we're concerned and we are talking,” Mattes said, adding that she and Hostetler are representing other parents.

“We totally understand your concern,” Superintendent Eileen Amato replied at the board meeting on Wednesday.

Several factors have caused higher teacher-student ratios than the district previously had, she said, including state funding cuts and the configuration of schools. Administrators have put support personnel, such as a reading teacher, in those classes to help.

Nicely's second grade is not alone, Amato said. Overall, 14 classes in the district's three elementary schools have 27, 28 or 29 students.

District personnel considered teacher-student ratios and other factors when organizing classrooms, said Ashley Nestor, coordinator of elementary education.

“With each of these we asked ourselves ... how is this going to affect our students?” she said.

Hiring a classroom assistant might be a solution, and President Nat Pantalone said he is willing to discuss it with the board.

But Amato pointed out that the district probably would need to hire six other assistants to be fair to other classes and schools.

Business manager James Meyer estimated an assistant would cost $20,000 for the remainder of the school year.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

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