The Northport-East Northport Board of Education voted
Tuesday to add 2.5 teachers on the elementary level before the start of the
2013-14 school year.
The Board of Education recently received dozens of email, phone and letters from parents, asking to have sections added at Pulaski, Bellerose and Fifth Avenue schools due to the size and makeup of the student body this coming school year.
Superintendent Mary McDermott said that she, the school principals and district administrators had been monitoring the class sizes of the kindergarten class at Pulaski, the fourth grade class at Bellerose and fifth grade class at Fifth Avenue schools to determine if additional sections would be needed.
Before Tuesday night’s school board meeting, the kindergarten classes at Pulaski would have encompassed 24 and 22 students respectively. Now, there will be a cap of 20 students by adding half a teaching position. At Bellerose, the classes would have been between 26 and 25 students. That number has now been brought down to 19. At the Fifth Avenue school the fifth grade sections would have also been between 25 and 26 students. Now all the three grades will be between 19 and 20 students.
“I take this as one of the most important jobs I have. When I came to the district I thought class sizes were too high. I lowered it,” McDermott said. “I took a second look and said, is this something we really need to do on behalf of the children? And after learning about every single child and those grades, it was my educational determination that this was the right thing to do.”
Kathleen Molander, assistant superintendent for business, said that while the budget is tight, the district could use money from its contingency budget line to adding the 2.5 teaching positions. The cost of the new positions would likely be around $200,000, she said. The hiring of the teachers would come at no additional cost to taxpayers this year since the cost for contingencies are already factored into the budget.
Since all of the elementary school teachers excessed in June have been brought back, the district will be hiring new staff members.
“We would obviously do that quickly before opening day,” Molander said
Board trustee Joseph Sabia abstained from the vote, while all other trustees voted in favor of the proposal.
This is affecting students and I look at the numbers in front of me and I think I wouldn’t want to be in the school where I have the larger class size,” Tammie Topel said.
The crowd of parents and community members applauded the board’s decision.