When Frontier schools opened their doors to students Wednesday, many teachers and staff who were laid off for the new school year were back after all.
At the same time, the district next week will welcome a new middle school principal. The School Board on Tuesday night appointed Barbara Shea, formerly assistant principal at Martin Luther King School 39 in Buffalo, to the $88,000-a-year post. She begins at Frontier on Monday and was approved by an 8-to-1 vote, with board member Jeremey Rosen casting the sole opposing vote.
Meanwhile, the district also learned that its overall student enrollment is down by 56 students from a year ago. Districtwide, enrollment was at 5,028 as of Tuesday afternoon.
The board reinstated and reappointed 14 full and part-time teachers, bringing them back in one of three capacities - some as regular substitutes, some as preferred substitutes and some in part-time positions.
In addition, five teacher's aides - three of them full-time employees - were reinstated. An additional 13 staffers on the district's preferred eligibility list were hired by other districts, in and out of state, said Myra Pinker, assistant superintendent of personnel.
The personnel cuts came at the end of last school year, when Frontier laid off several of its staff due to severe budget cuts.
The district is able to fund the reinstatements through leaves of absence, resignations and retirements, administrators said.
"It's positive because almost every teacher was offered something," Pinker said.
Superintendent James C. Bodziak said he did not expect the staff adjustments to be so far-reaching. "I thought we'd be able to bring some people back, but I was really surprised when Myra said we could bring as many back as we did," he said.
Shea, the new middle school principal, has worked 2½ years with mostly sixth- through eighth-graders at Martin Luther King School 39, and she previously worked as a reading specialist through an Erie 1 BOCES grant program. She also worked in the Maryvale School District.
"It's a little bittersweet," she said of leaving the city school, but she said she is looking forward to starting at Frontier.
Frontier's student enrollment is down a bit from last September, though some growth occurred in the south end of the district - namely Pinehurst Elementary School - where homes continue to be built. Enrollment at Pinehurst is at 657, up by 30 children over last September.
However, the district is keeping a close eye on third-grade class sizes, most of which are hovering around 25 students per class. If those numbers shift upward much more by October, Bodziak said, he may consider some staff adjustments, but he leaned more toward aides, since it's difficult to reassign students who have already bonded with their teachers.