Board approves hiring an additional kindergarten teacher
Tonganoxie Elementary School's enrollment continues to climb.
So much so that school board members Monday night voted unanimously to approve an additional kindergarten teacher for the 2006-2007 school year.
TES kindergarten teachers Debbie Wedel, Nancy Gibbens and Lyn Smith urged board members to approve the new teaching position.
Wedel noted that at the end of the recent kindergarten roundup, 117 students had pre-enrolled.
"Never in the history of Tonganoxie kindergarten have we been at this high a number at this point in time," Gibbens told board members. "You can all see those little rooftops going up all over town. You can pretty much anticipate 30 more (students)."
TES principal Jerry Daskoski said that at the start of recent school years, the school had had from 30 to 40 more kindergartners than had pre-enrolled in April.
At the start of this school year, there were 120 kindergarten students. Daskoski predicted the 2006-2007 kindergarten enrollment might range from 140 to 150.
The grade school is crowded, Daskoski said, noting the district is in the midst of a $25.3 million construction project which includes building a new middle school for students in fifth grade through eighth grade. When that school opens in January, TES' fifth- and sixth-grade students will move into the new middle school, freeing up classroom space at the elementary school.
In the meantime, between August and December, there's no spare room at the grade school to house additional kindergarten classes.
But Daskoski offered a solution -- blend the new teacher's classroom into Gibbens' classroom for the fall semester.
Then, when the middle school opens, the new kindergarten teacher's classroom will be moved into a classroom near the kindergarten wing.
Gibbens said she would be happy to share her classroom with another teacher and students.
"If that becomes the factor," Gibbens told board members, "believe me, I'll teach on the roof. I just feel strongly that we need to give those little ones an opportunity. Perhaps for four months it will be a little wild, but after that we'll have it set in place."
Daskoski noted that Gibbens had frequently taught with other adults.
"She's just kind of made for that," Daskoski said.
Daskoski said, by adding the extra teacher, kindergarten classroom sizes could be kept to about 17 students. In the room of Gibbens and the new teacher, he said, each teacher would have about 16 students, and a full-time para-professional.
Gibbens further voiced her support for the idea, saying that when she was in kindergarten, her school had done the same thing.
Gibbens referred to the plan as a "creative classroom situation," and added, "It's real easy for me to team teach, I could do it."
By a vote of 7-0, board members unanimously approved the new kindergarten position.