August 18, 2003

Lannon parents concerned about class sizes

More than a dozen Lannon Elementary School parents spoke out at the Hamilton School Board meeting about class size concerns. Parents were worried about kindergarten class sizes of 25 and 26 and fourth grade classrooms at 28 and 29 students. They urged board members to add more staff so that students would get the attention they need during their important developmental years. Parents handed out research about the importance of class size on student achievement and behavior.

Among the suggestions was to hire more teachers for the kindergarten and fourth grade classrooms, add teachers before school starts so that classes are not disrupted and provide additional assistance to teachers with high class sizes if more teachers cannot be hired.

Board members heard from Educational Services and Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Dean Schultz that even though the district expects to have about 39 more students than last year, total full-time equivalency (FTE) teaching positions are down by seven throughout the district. Two contingency positions are still available, but likely will be used to address kindergarten classes at Woodside and Maple Avenue elementary schools, which have even higher class sizes than Lannon.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke said there are eight classrooms across the district — kindergarten at Woodside, Maple and Lannon, fourth grade at Lannon, Maple and Woodside, and fifth grade at Marcy and Woodside — that concern school administrators.
Earlier this year, the School Board trimmed more than $551,000 from the 2003-04 budget to comply with state-imposed revenue caps. Along with other cuts, the board reduced five teaching and 4.5 support staff positions. The number of elementary full-time equivalency (FTE) positions will drop from 140.28 in 2002-03 to 136.78 in 2003-04. Middle school FTEs will go from 68.18 to 67.18, and high school staffing drops from 75.52 to 73.02.

Schultz said that federal Title One funds could be used at Lannon to provide additional support at Lannon, but would not provide enough money to hire full-time teachers. He said additional aide time was a likely solution.

Goals developed

School Board members approved goals for themselves and the superintendent which include:

  • develop resources and implement strategies to enhance student achievement;
  • implement district strategic plan;
  • promote positive school image;
  • promote and expand relationships with the community;
  • monitor district enrollments and community growth and implement plans to address facilities needs; and
  • update board policies.

Elementary gifted and talented program proceeds

Instructional Supervisor Margaret Bauman, Ph.D., described the work of the district’s elementary gifted and talented resource teacher. Covering the four elementary schools, the resource teacher:

  • works with gifted and talented students individually and in small groups;
  • collaborates with teachers to extend, enrich and compact curriculum and instruction;
  • teaches critical thinking lessons in classrooms;
  • creates and implements teacher workshops on critical thinking;
  • coordinates an elementary forensics program for all students;
  • is a resource for parents; and
  • meets with middle and high school Spectrum resource teachers to discuss program and student needs.

Hamilton parents recognized

Hamilton Principal David Furrer presented three high school parents for recognition. Lia Bulkes, Debbie Coon and Margie Klein were honored for their participation in the Parent Advisory Group, Parent Press newsletter and various volunteer activities throughout the school year.

“The Hamilton School District is fortunate to have a parent base that is strongly involved in the schools,” Furrer said. “These three parents are examples.”

Construction decisions finalized

School Board members decided several matters related to construction of the high school’s fine arts-learning center. Reallocation of building and grounds funds will allow the project to include a walkable catwalk, burnished interior brick and exterior lannon stone trim. The catwalk for maintenance work was suggested to avoid having to purchase a 60-foot lift that posed safety concerns and the burnished brick requires less maintenance. The high school and Marcy construction projects are proceeding on schedule and within budget.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved the retirement of Maple Avenue teacher aide Patricia Manyo, effective July 21;
  • accepted the resignation of Hamilton science teacher Yvette Losielle-Casper; and
  • appointed John Vitale as summer school assistance coordinator; Bridget Martin as Willow Spring part-time early childhood teacher; Melissa Elftman as Woodside cognitive disabilities teacher; Kristy Laurich as Templeton seventh grade teacher; Wendy Otto as Hamilton reading teacher; Lori Hinytz as Hamilton social studies teacher; Rachel Anderson as Woodside part-time writing resource teacher; Thomas Hoffman as Hamilton part-time replacement science teacher; Rosanna Hanson as Marcy part-time cognitive disabilities teacher; and Caitlin Gatterman as Marcy special service teacher aide.