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SANBORN - The Niagara Wheatfield Board of Education was told Wednesday that class sizes are larger than expected but that the exact impact won't be reported until later.
Interim School Superintendent James Knowles said most class sizes are larger because of budget constraints. The school district furloughed about 40 instructional staff at the end of the 2012 school year in order to avoid larger tax hikes.
Although he said he did not have the exact count yet, he said enrollment is up but "not substantially." The class sizes would depend on the subject areas and the level. Upper-level courses such as fourth-year French or physics have lower enrollments while the mandated subjects have higher enrollments, he explained.
He told the board he would issue a report at the Sept. 19 meeting that would show how each area was affected.
About 4,300 students were transported to school, he said. The district picked up an additional 86 students since Aug. 20, but Knowles said the overall population is about the same as last year, since a similar number have left the district.
Knowles noted that the district was prepared for opening day Wednesday and operations continued in a relatively uneventful fashion. "Now we're going to move in a positive direction this year," he predicted.
In another matter, the board said it would not change its new policy of conducting executive sessions at the beginning of meetings rather than at the end.
School district gadfly and former board member Rosemary Warren said she felt the new practice of going immediately behind closed doors at the commencement of the meetings was "not businesslike" and was unfair to members of the press who have deadlines.
She said members of the public do not know when the actual meeting will begin.
The board this year began the practice of starting each meeting at 7 p.m. and then voting to go into executive session, usually to discuss personnel matters. At most meetings, the executive sessions have taken about an hour.
Board President Steven Sabo responded that the reporters do not work for the district and that the board prefers to discuss matters before taking necessary action. Knowles had remarked that the public need not show up until 7:30 or 7:45 p.m. on most meeting nights to catch the meeting unless it wanted to come in and "enjoy the air conditioning."

email: niagaranews@buffnews.com