Enrollment worries lifted with large K class

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

“I’m very excited about them progressing through their elementary school, middle school, and high school careers here in Voorheesville,” said elementary school Principal Thomas Reardon of the large incoming kindergarten class; he had been worried about declining enrollment.

VOORHEESVILLE — The Voorheesville School Board spoke to an audience of three Monday evening, but, while most of the public has been out enjoying the summer away from school, the board has been busy ramping up for the coming school year.

Voorheesville Elementary School, in particular, has been hard at work preparing for the fall.

The incoming kindergarten class has 83 students, higher than the past few years, and a welcome relief.

“We were a little worried about enrollment,” Thomas Reardon, principal of Voorheesville Elementary School, told The Enterprise on Tuesday.

The rising first-grade and third-grade classes are around 65 students, while the much-discussed fourth-grade class is about 100.

The larger fourth-grade was often in the spotlight during budget season, with many parents concerned about section sizes and children getting the attention and help they need in the classroom.

The fourth-grade class will have four sections, and the incoming kindergarten class will too, one more than this year, as a response to the higher enrollment.

“I’m very excited about them progressing through their elementary school, middle school, and high school careers here in Voorheesville,” Reardon said.

Progression isn’t just for the students, however. The teachers at the elementary school discuss their long-term career goals with Reardon often, and they work together to find a good fit for everyone.

“Feasibly, you could be in the same grade level for your whole career,” Reardon said. But, teachers want to stay fresh, and move around in the school to get new experiences.

“It’s a very organic process,” he said.

Their desire to do this helps when there is a need to shuffle teachers, as is the case this coming year, said Reardon.

A fourth-grade teacher will move to second grade, and a first-grade teacher will move up to fill the hole left in fourth grade.

While moving people to keep them happy, the school also makes sure the students have the quality education and resources they need, Reardon said.

“Every teacher in the building could teach any grade level,” he said.

This fall will also feature job-sharing in third grade, a practice where two teachers split classroom time evenly, each working half-time.

“It basically allows the students to have two stellar teachers,” said Reardon, “and allows [the teachers] to spend more time with their families.”

Job-sharing is a concept that staff have asked about in the past, Reardon said, but budget constraints this year helped push the idea into practice.

The teachers’ salaries will be prorated equal to their reduced workload, which will also allow the district to save a substantial amount on benefit costs.

Reardon said the two teachers work wonderfully together, describing the situation as “a perfect recipe.”

The principal is excited about the upcoming school year, and proud of all the work that has been done to prepare.

“We don’t want to rush the summer,” he said, “but we could open tomorrow.”

Other business

In other business, the board:

—  Approved appointments for over 40 coaching positions for the 2014-15 school year;

— Approved appointments for over 30 roles in extracurricular activities;

— Approved an out-of-town student field trip request to Salem, Massachusetts in October;

— Was updated on the Voorheesville Community Alliance for Healthy Choices, which held its kickoff event in late June. About 50 students participated; and,

— Approved the continuance of Patrick Corrigan in the role of principal at Clayton A. Bouton High School.



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