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The Rundown: D124 to Hire Teacher and Aides to Meet Large Enrollment

An update on student transfers, changes to ISAT and a teacher's grievance that was denied.

Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124, Superintendent Diane Cody and the Board of Education met for a regular board meeting on Wednesday to discuss a variety of topics.

New Hires

District 124 will hire three additional teachers’ aides and has hired one fourth grade teacher to alleviate the demands of larger classrooms.

Two aides at l will help first grade, second grade and mostly kindergarten teachers who have 27 students in each classroom, Supt. Diane Cody told board members. The third aide at will service the fifth grade classes, she said.

Board member Kimberly Leonard asked whether a single additional aide at Southeast was enough, given that the school recently lost half a special education teacher.

In turn, Board President Kathleen Rohan suggested that the board wait until later in the semester, when the board could solicit feedback from Southeast teachers and principal.

Later in the night, Assistant Supt. for Business Services Fran LaBella, who has begun , told board members that she’s projecting a $1.2 million deficit for the district.

Despite the financial challenges that lay ahead, Cody said the new hires were dire.

“We feel it is very important for student success to hire the extra support,” she said, noting that a financial task force is set to start meeting on Sept. 15 and would discuss how to bring the district out of the red over the long term.

“We can’t deficit spend forever,” she said. “We have good fund balances right now. … But when you start chipping away with the deficit spending, those fund balances disappear pretty quickly.”

School Choice Update

After failing to meet Annual Yearly Progress requirements under No Child Left Behind, students attending Southeast and were given the ability to transfer to a west school of their choice this year. The deadline for a request of transfer has ended, though new students to the district may reserve that right for another month.

Cody told the board that 54 students in total requested transfer—25 to and 29 to Southwest—28 of whom need busing.

ISAT Changes

Also on Wednesday, Assistant Supt. of Curriculum and Assessment Kathy Hatczel summarized several new changes to ISAT requirements.

In some areas, including Math, students would be expected to perform at one grade higher. For instance, Hatczel said, 8th graders could be expected to complete algebra by high school.

Hatczel said the district would immediately begin working on a plan to adopt the changes, to be completed for the 2012-2013 school year. Despite the tougher expectations on students, she said school districts across the state would retain a bit of flexibility when putting together their new curriculums.

Teacher's Grievance Denied

Resuming the meeting after a closed-door discussion, the board voted 6-1 to deny the grievance of a district teacher. Dawn McNamara cast the dissenting vote.

Rohan deferred questions on the issue to Cody. Without getting into specifics, Cody would only say that the grievance “was regarding the assignment of a teacher.”

Grievances fall under personnel issues, which under state law do not have to be revealed to the public.

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