Greensburg Salem administrators appeal for more teachers
By Bob Stiles
Published: Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Greensburg Salem administrators asked school directors this week to hire more teachers to meet educational needs of students and avoid overcrowding in an elementary school.
During a meeting on Wednesday, Superintendent Eileen Amato told the board that a first-grade teacher at Amos K. Hutchinson Elementary School and a physical education teacher at the middle school are needed.
Without the teacher, Hutchinson will have 26 or 27 students in its first-grade classes, more than administrators want, Amato said.
And a gym class at the middle school could have as many as 60 students if a gym teacher isn't hired, district officials said.
Directors could vote on the two hirings and others during a meeting on Wednesday.
Directors Lee Kunkle and Angela DeMarino-Tooch, in particular, expressed concerns related to the hirings and future budgets.
If directors hire more teachers now, those positions probably will carry over for years to come and be a continuing expense, Kunkle said.
Business Manager James Meyer has forecast that staff salaries and pension contributions will go up about $1.5 million in the 2014-15 budget.
Amato said administrators have tried to balance financial constraints with educational needs.
“I think we've been extra frugal,” she said. “I think we're watching every penny.”
The first-grade and gym teachers were cut when directors adopted the 2013-14 budget in June.
“We can't have 60 kids in gym class,” President Ron Mellinger said.
Meyer estimated the two new positions and a supplemental dean of students job at the middle school would cost the district about $200,000 in salaries and benefits. The dean will work both as a classroom teacher and a guidance counselor.
To fund the new teaching positions, administrators have proposed using $100,000 from a budgetary reserve and eliminating summer school to net $60,000. Additional funding is proposed to come from the technology budget and a shuffling of staff.
Kunkle questioned ending summer school.
“We think it's more pressing to have a teacher,” Amato replied.
The summer Writing Camp will continue because it's funded by a citizen, Amato said.
Hiring the first-grade teacher means that the number of students in kindergarten through third-grade classes in the elementary schools will be “in the low 20s,” Amato said.
Research shows that keeping classroom numbers low is especially important in those primary grades because a great deal of learning occurs then, especially in reading, Amato and other administrators have said.
Parents have expressed concerns about too many students in elementary school classes, where some had as many as 30 students last school year.
Classes with more than 25 students will continue in some fourth and fifth grades, district officials said.
Director Richard Payha suggested directors may need to consider busing students among schools.
Busing can't occur now, with fewer than 30 days remaining until school starts, Amato said. But maybe it can be considered in the future, she said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or email@example.com.
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