By Michelle Miller
---- — Cooperstown Central School has been advertising for a part-time elementary teacher position.
The decision to create the position was made at last week’s board of education meeting to address the needs that have been recognized with the increased size of the first-grade class. The motion was carried with the approval of all the board members who were present. Andrew Marietta did not attend the meeting.
According to Superintendent C.J. Hebert, Elementary Principal Teresa Gorman and the first-grade teachers are working on a proposal for the use of the additional part-time teacher. He said the goal is to divide the students into smaller groups, particularly during English language arts and math lessons, so that the teacher student ratio is much more favorable.
The person hired will be used for core academic time, not for specialties such as art and music, Hebert explained.
“Right now we are looking to have this person work with just the first grade,” Hebert said.
“Right now we are just making sure that whoever we hire is utilized in the very best way possible,” Gorman added.
Once more concrete plans are worked out, Hebert said, Gorman will send out letters to parents with more details on how the district plans to use the new hire.
Board of Education President Dave Borgstrom said he does not feel the school is trying to hide any information from parents because things are still in the beginning stages.
“I think it is important not to put information out there that we are not sure is accurate yet either,” he said. “It is a complicated process and we are doing everything we can to balance all the issues that are there and to provide the optimal solution. But in order to do so, I think there is still an ongoing discussion on how we can maximize the utilization of the position to achieve all that we need to achieve. I think as soon as all that is clear, it will be a lot easier to explain to everybody exactly what the solution was.”
Hebert said the teacher hired will have his or her own separate room, so it won’t be a case of an individual pushing into the other three classrooms. In other words, he said, students will be grouped into four sections for a period of the day.
When asked if there has been any discussion on whether a full-time position will be made for the next school year Hebert said there has not.
CCS hired a full-time 10-month kindergarten teacher before the start of the school year to accommodate a larger-than-anticipated class.
According to Hebert, the district looked at live birth data before the kindergarten roundup and was expecting a small class of kindergartners in the high 30s. Those numbers held through for most of the spring, but as July approached, the numbers began to climb into the low 40s, he said.
At the time, board member Theresa Russo said she feared parents of first-grade students might want to see smaller class sizes for their children also because numbers were tight. Officials said there were 67 students enrolled in first grade with a possibility of two more joining the group.
There arethree sections of first-graders with a total of 71 students.