School board adds kindergarten class

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REGION 16 — The Region 16 Board of Education has approved hiring another kindergarten teacher at Prospect Elementary School to reduce class sizes.

The board, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, reviewed enrollment figures for the coming school year last week.

Of the five kindergarten classes at the new Prospect Elementary School, there were 19 students registered in two classes and 20 in the other three as of last week. There are 14 students in three of the four kindergarten classes at Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls. The other class at Laurel Ledge has 12 students.

The board’s recommended number of students in a kindergarten class is 20. However, school officials felt that 19 or 20 kindergarten students are too many for a teacher to manage, particularly since the district is implementing full-day kindergarten this year.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin recommended hiring two aides to assist kindergarten teachers at Prospect Elementary School. He said parents have already been told what kindergarten teachers their children will have, and additional materials will have to be ordered if a new class is opened.

However, board members felt strongly that hiring a new teacher to open up another kindergarten class was the best way to go. The additional kindergarten class brings the class sizes down to about 16 students in each class.

Board member Robert Hiscox said the district made a big investment in full-day kindergarten, and an additional teacher would help to ensure it’s successful.

Hiscox added that some families have moved to Prospect because of the new elementary school. He anticipates enrollment will go up in the coming years.

The starting salary for the new kindergarten teacher will depend on the person’s experience and education level. The cost for the new teacher is expected to be covered by anticipated savings from replacing teachers who resigned or retired over the summer with teachers at a lower starting salary. Director of Finance and Business Operations Pamela Mangini said 15 teachers have resigned and another six retired.

Interviews for the new kindergarten teacher were scheduled for earlier this week. Yamin was hopeful that the new teacher will be in place when school begins Aug. 31.