There were 41 fifth-grade students crowded into a small room at Tyler Elementary School, which School Board Treasurer Martha Toth called “a sight to behold.”
And, there were 34 first-graders in another room and that “wasn’t much better,” Toth said of the crowded conditions since school started in some of the district’s classrooms.
On Monday, the school board authorized the administration to rearrange the classrooms and hire some teachers to increase the staffing where needed to meet the class size recommendations of a maximum of 30 students.
Board members said they didn’t want to wait until the next regular meeting to authorize hirings. The exact names of the teachers will be approved at an upcoming meeting.
Board President David Peer noted the total school enrollment is still down, but not as far down as projected in the budget.
School Supt. Thomas Riutta said they staffed for a projected 1,650-1,675 at the high school and there are 1,750 now.
“I can’t tell you where all the students came from. We didn’t expect them,” Supt. Riutta said.
Tyler at 560 students and Edgemont at 530 are overcrowded and students will be adjusted.
“We’ll have to take a look at all of our buildings and attendance areas,” Supt. Riutta said.
He said they hope to have the adjustments done by Friday of this week.
Earlier in the meeting, Edgemont teacher Patricia Matkovic gave an impassioned plea for an additional fourth-grade teacher at her school, stating Edgemont reached the goal of becoming a Class A school and she feared they would not be able to maintain their high standards in an over-crowded school.
While Matkovic implied the community is growing, Peer stated, “We’re not a growing community.” He compared the 2002 school population of 6,200 to this year’s 5,400.
The students were overpopulating specific buildings, he said, and they could be rearranged.
The board also voted to expand the BHS student parking lot on the St. Anthony property at a cost of $36,528.80. This would help with the traffic congestion, since students are leaving by way of West Columbia Ave. and Davis/Sumpter Road and going all different destinations.
With the new lot, which Davenport Brothers will be able to get in place within a week or so, those who exit to the west will have to use the new west parking lot and those heading to Davis/ Sumpter will have to use the east parking lot.
The cost of the temporary, gravel parking lot will come out of the General Conditions part of the construction budget.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the board:
* Approved the appointments of Brian Brice and Pam Smart as school district representatives to the Van Buren Township Local Development Financing Authority (LDFA), with terms to expire Aug. 12, 2014. The former members were the late Supt. Pete Lazaroff and attorney Kenneth McKanders. Then Nick Armelagos took over when Lazaroff died. Now Armelagos has resigned. The board said it appreciated McKanders’ service, but would like school district personnel on the board, so they could bring back information to the district;
* Approved an add alternative of resinous terrazzo flooring for BHS at a cost of $251,400 from Artisan Flooring;
* Approved an upgrade to a previous bid for a Magnetic Bearing Chiller buying instead a Centrifugal Chiller for water conditioning for the entire complex at a cost of $107,000;
* Approved a recommendation to tear down the present team/storage building and authorize an architect to do drawings up to $40,000 in cost for its replacement in order to go out for bids. The new building, which is estimated to cost $600,000, would be for storage, team rooms, refs’ rooms, and rest rooms and would be built next summer;
* Heard a report on the Community Focus project that held a community gathering last spring where the crowd broke up into ten groups and set priorities for the district. The results show that the residents of the community have as the district’s top goal the academic program and student performance. The results, compiled by computer, give “communications and customer relations” as a second in priority, and “administration/ management” as third. Dr. Tom Svitkovich, Superintendent of the Genessee Intermediate School District, who did the study with Genesee ISD Executive Director Jerry Johnson, said “facilities and technology,” usually a concern in such studies, did not make the top of the list, apparently since the district is currently building a new high school;
* Approved an unpaid general purpose leave of absence for bus driver Robert White, from June 10 to Nov. 29;
* Approved requested terminations for Kara Schultz, who served one month as a teacher at South Middle School, for other employment; Sarah Avery, a teacher at North Middle School for 5.5 years for other employment; and Karl VanZile, a career tech. teacher for three years, for personal reasons;
* Approved hiring Kimberly Glime to teach art at Edgemont and Tyler at a salary of $39,365; Kristin Nedroscik and Jennifer Jacobs to teach tuition preschool at ECDC for $20.45 per hour; and Joseph Majewski to teach as a transition specialist at BHS for $28.40 per hour; and
* Heard the next meeting, a workshop at 7 p.m. Monday, would be held at the Administration Building and would discuss policy book updates. The regular meeting on Sept. 27 will also be at the Administration Building and will have the financial audit report and a proposed ratification of the contract with the teachers’ union.