G-ASD expects largest kindergarten class

PAT FRIDGEN

An influx of students at the last minute took the Greencastle-Antrim School District administration by surprise. Superintendent Dr. C. Gregory Hoover told the school board Aug. 18 that in the two previous weeks 12 additional kindergarten students had enrolled. That put the number at 236, and more could still be coming before the Aug. 29 start date.

"This is the largest kindergarten enrollment in the history of the school district," he said. "I can't tell you why. Last year it was 191."

He asked the board to hire a new teacher, which would cost the district between $85,000 and $90,000 with benefits. It would not be adding a position to the roster, but simply replacing a vacancy not filled from one of last year's retiring teachers. He had already spoken to the Greencastle-Antrim Education Association, which would allow the district to drop the position next year if enrollment went back down, and not use it as a negotiating tool.

Hoover said the kindergarten class size with 11 teachers would be 21 or 22. Adding another teacher would put them at 19 or 20.

"Even a drop of two kids in a kindergarten room matters," he said. "Our philosophy is an emphasis on early learners."

Primary school principal Angela Singer agreed that the student/teacher ratio was important. "When working with the earliest learners, we need to give them as much individual attention as we can, to set them up for success."

She said there was a classroom available, as well as all necessary supplies.

On a Paul Politis/Howard Ritchey motion, the board authorized Hoover to hire a teacher, with Melinda Cordell, Mike Shindle, Joel Fridgen, Kristy Faulkner and William Thorne also supportive. Eric Holtzman and Brian Hissong were absent.

Hoover said the other elementary grades were also full. The enrollment for first was 203, with 22 or 23 students per room; second was at 219, third at 224, fourth at 197, fifth at 249, and based on the number of teachers, that resulted in 24 or 25 students in each room. The sixth grade enrollment was 246, putting 30 or 31 students in each classroom. Those numbers were the reason he had not recommended pulling a teacher out of any of those grades to take kindergarten, because then each class would increase by two students.

Middle school principal Mark Herman said sixth, seventh and eighth grades all averaged over 30 students per class, and he might be asking for desks or chairs at some point.

Committee reports

Thorne updated the board on progress on the stadium renovations. Out of the $185,000 contingency fund, $81,000 was left and work was wrapping up. Two light poles had to be installed two feet and nine feet higher than expected, the track was coming in lower than predicted, some crooked lines and sunken spots on the north field were being addressed, and one task quoted at $51,000 had been done for less than half that, due to the efforts of project manager Kevin Weller.

"Kevin has done a great job for us," said Thorne. "He's well worth his pay."

Faulkner said the G-A MAAX ribbon cutting at Kaley Field would be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4. Someone had donated fireworks for the occasion. Hoover said the offer was for after all home football games as well, and the district was checking to make sure the displays would be legal and safe.

Other business

The board passed a resolution opposing the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act of 1961, and approved endowment agreements between the Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation and the school board. The three permanent endowments will be 'The Arts', 'Tayamentasachta', and 'Interscholastic Athletics'. The purpose of each is to accrue principal and interest to at least $100,000, and then use the interest to fund programs maintaining and enhancing art, band, chorus and drama; operations and facilities at the environmental center; and girls and boys sports, facilities, coaches and equipment.

Aftan Francis was hired as a primary school half-time long-term sub for art, and Aric Bruner was hired as a sixth grade teacher.

The board meeting for Sept. 1 was cancelled. Hoover didn't foresee anything for the agenda and a special meeting could be called if necessary.