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Reducing class sizes a priority in Hampton Elementary schools

| Monday, May 1, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Elementary school class sizes remain a point of contention in the Hampton School District.

The district may fill as many as six instructional positions for the 2017-18 school year.

Jeff Kline, Hampton's director of administration, said some primary classrooms have enrollments in the mid- to upper-20s with one teacher, not the preferred low-20s level.

Central Elementary is scheduled to add a fourth classroom for fourth grade.

Wyland will hire an additional fourth-grade teacher, as well.

The district hasn't yet predicted the enrollment for Poff, but the current plan is to add a third classroom and teacher for third grade. A final enrollment estimate likely won't be available until June.

Paul Hanna, a Poff parent, said the district should budget the additional three positions proposed, saying the need has been established.

“Everyone is fed up with these classroom sizes,” Hanna said.

Lindsay Wolfson agreed. “We want the six teachers,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Loughead said enrollment can be unpredictable.

“Even in two weeks, we see student numbers change in schools,” he said. “Numbers will go up and down.”

Total enrollment in the district is declining, board member Mary Alice Hennessey said, citing a decrease of 64 students between the elementary schools.

Enrollment increases can come from summer moves to new construction in the district, as well as students transferring from parochial schools, Loughead said. But the board said it doesn't make staffing decisions based on possible enrollments.

“We can't hire based on what's going to happen in the future,” said Hennessey.

Poff parent Paul Fritch presented a petition with more than 100 signatures to add more teachers. Central parent Jason Roth presented a similar petition at the last meeting.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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