Principal predicts record-size kindergarten class
Tonganoxie's incoming kindergarten class may be the largest ever.
Jerry Daskoski told school board members Monday night that parents signed up 76 students at Thursday's kindergarten information night. The students will start school in August.
"Two years ago we had 56 kindergartners sign up and we started the year with 100 kindergartners," Daskoski said.
A year ago, 64 kindergarten students were signed up on kindergarten information night, and by the time school started, the number had grown to 111, he said.
"This is probably the highest attendance last week in kindergarten ever recorded here," Daskoski said of Thursday's 76-student signup.
Because of the large size of this year's kindergarten class, Daskoski and Tammie George, TES assistant principal, said they want to add a new first-grade class next year. Currently, there are five first-grade classes.
"If we start with five classes, we'll start with 22 students per class, which is high for first grade," Daskoski said. "And that doesn't count any additional ones that might move in."
Board member Leana Leslie asked where the new classroom would be located.
Daskoski said one of the third-grade classes would move into an existing classroom in a modular unit on the school grounds. That room currently is used for gifted classes taught by Judy Barbee. Her room would be moved to a space inside the main school building.
Daskoski and George noted they'd like to hire an additional paraeducator for the grade school for the upcoming year, as well. This would mean there would be one paraeducator for every grade level. Currently, one paraeducator serves both the first and second grade levels, and another paraeducator serves the third and fourth grade levels. To provide a specific paraeducator for each grade level, the at-risk paraeducator would be assigned one of those grade levels and the new hire would take another.
The administrators also talked about the difficulty of scheduling physical education and music classes for so many students -- in limited space. Currently, 818 students are enrolled at TES.
During an interview Tuesday, Daskoski said adding a first-grade class would compound the problem of scheduling, as physical education teachers at the school teach more than one class at a time as it is.
"It's not like we can add additional ones (physical education classes), because we're out of time, out of the school day," Daskoski said. "But the advantage of having an additional first grade teacher outweighs the disadvantage of doing some doubling."
Board member Ron Moore urged the teachers and administrators to continue working it out as best as they can.
"I think you're just going to have to work with the problem until we get another school built," Moore said.
Daskoski agreed, smiling, "I think that's the upside of the problem, we're just talking two years."
As far as other staffing concerns in the district, Tonganoxie Junior High Principal Steve Woolf said he would like to hire an additional paraeducator to assist with physical education classes. Ideally, Woolf said, this position would be filled by a male so that he could also supervise the boys' locker room.
And high school Principal Tatia Shelton said she would like to fill a part-time science teaching position at the high school next year.
Board members did not take any action on the possible new positions, as these were discussion-only items on Monday's agenda.