Hirings aim to ease impact of large classes at Greensburg Salem
By Bob Stiles
Published: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Greensburg Salem school directors approved on Wednesday hiring four instructional aides at a cost of nearly $115,000 to ease the effects of large class sizes in the district's three elementary schools.
In an 8-0 vote, directors endorsed hiring two aides for James H. Metzgar, and one aide each at Robert F. Nicely and Amos K. Hutchinson. Director Barbara Vernail didn't attend.
Metzgar had been short one assistant because of 2012-13 budget cuts the school board made last summer.
Directors supported hiring the aides after Superintendent Eileen Amato and Ashley Nestor, coordinator of elementary education, offered three options for the schools.
Directors selected option two, which Amato recommended.
“We like option two, but option two comes at the cost you see on the paper,” Amato said. “If we spend it, we can't spend it on other things.”
Option one called for hiring eight teachers for $372,536, while option three called for hiring one aide for Metzgar at a cost of nearly $29,000.
Director Lee Kunkle opposed hiring the teachers.
“How can we fund $372,000 ... four months into (the school year)?” he said.
In their proposal, administrators targeted seven classrooms in Hutchinson, six in Nicely and five classrooms in Metzgar as concerns because of teacher-student ratios.
Nestor said she viewed three sections of kindergarten with 24, 24 and 25 students at Hutchinson, as well as four fourth-grade classes with 28 students as concerns.
At Nicely, 27 students in the two second-grade classes, 27 students in the two fourth-grade classes and 28 and 27 students in the two fifth-grade classes are concerns, Nestor said.
At Metzgar, administrators pointed to 25 students in first grade, 30 and 29 students in the two third-grade classes and 27 and 28 pupils in the fourth-grade classes as concerns.
Amato said she supported option two because it offered help but didn't require students to go to another classroom, as hiring new teachers would. Hutchinson further has no space left to use for a classroom, she said.
Robin Mattes, a Nicely parent who questioned teacher-student ratios last month, told directors she liked option two the best.
“I think option two is a good, honest try, and I really appreciate that,” she said. “Option three, not at all.”
She said she hopes directors “understand it's not a fix; it's a Band-Aid.”
The district will be handling talks about the 2013-14 budget differently, Amato said, considering class sizes more.
Directors have been hampered by a tight budget and even greater concerns about being able to balance the 2013-14 budget.
Before hiring the aides, administrators tried to ease the effects of large class sizes by using support personnel.
The aides will divide time among the classrooms in the schools, administrators indicated.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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