Staffing proposals presented to school board

Shawn Hardy

Last week’s Greencastle-Antrim School Board meeting started with a request from a parent for more teachers as the enrollment “bubble” reaches the middle school and drew near the end with a presentation on staff needs for the 2017-18 school year by Dr. Robert Crider, chief educational officer.

Crider’s presentation included four scenarios, with costs from $600,000 to nothing.

Molli Wright’s son is in the fifth-grade group that will move to the middle school next year, with a projected 256 students for sixth grade. That’s compared to an estimated 232 in seventh grade.

With the current eight sixth-grade teachers, class size will average 32, according to Crider’s presentation.

The bubble continues for two more years with next year’s fifth-grade projection of 261 and fourth-grade projection of 253 before dropping to 238 for third grade.

“I respectfully ask that you add to the middle school team,” said Wright. She said she knows money is tight and “we are here to help,” mentioning a task force, discussion and brainstorming.

Literacy coaches, which have been grant-funded, are among the positions Crider discussed. They coach teachers, help them find new approaches and evaluate what they do.

“Losing a coach at the elementary level would have a detrimental impact,” said Chad Stover, elementary principal. He said it would become easy for teachers to go in a classroom, shut the door and do what they’ve always done.

All but the $600,000 Plan A presented by Crider reduce literacy coaching until it is eliminated in the zero cost Plan D.

His plans include a variety of new positions and realignments and he said, “We may have to pick and choose.”

“The financial piece is a reality, but we appreciate the board doing what’s best for the kids,” said Crider. No vote was taken and Crider asked board members to give staffing a lot of thought and to meet with district representatives about it before making a decision.