OLEAN – At a time when student enrollment in small city and rural school districts is in decline, the Olean City School District has an interesting problem: too many kindergarteners.
“Our numbers are up, and that presents us with two options,” District Superintendent Colleen Taggerty said. “We can either bring on a new teacher to reduce class sizes or we can offer to parents to have their students transported to Washington West Elementary School.”
After the closure of Ivers J. Norton Elementary and Boardmanville Elementary two years ago, the district has been left with Washington West on the western side of the city, and Eastview on the east. Each of the buildings currently has four kindergarten classes. Class sizes at Washington West are at an average of 19 students while the four at Eastview Elementary fluctuate from 23 to 25 students per classroom, Taggerty said.
Board member Ira Katzenstein said he prefers bringing on a new teacher to transporting students to another school. “I would much rather the students stay embedded in their neighborhood schools,” he said.
Taggerty said she agreed and would like to have the matter resolved and on the Sept. 3 meeting agenda to ensure there is no overcrowding of students in a classroom. She said, if it be the direction of the board, she would like to have additional staff in place prior to the new school year to avoid shuffling students from one room to another when a new teacher is brought in after the start of the year.
In other news, the board voted unanimously to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Olean YMCA to provide an extended school day – before school program –– for the 2013-14 school year. The program will cost the district $13,000 for the school year, an increase over the $11,855 of last year’s program.
“I want to thank the YMCA for stepping up to provide this program,” board member Laurie Branch said. “I think they probably lose money on this. This is a public thank you.”