Administrators look to maintain classroom management

EVART — When Evart Elementary School estimated its kindergarten enrollment after the school’s kindergarten roundup this summer, administrators expected around 70 students for the 2012-13 school year. Now, in the second week of school, the elementary school has 83 students enrolled in its kindergarten program. The three sections of kindergarten have 26, 28 and 29 students, respectively. “Those numbers are not the way we would love to have them,” said Evart Elementary School principal Carol Phelps. “If you add a few kids (to a class) it makes a big difference at that age.” At Monday’s meeting of the Evart School Board, the enrollment numbers were presented to the board. The affect of the high numbers is experienced the most during lessons when students require more one-on-one attention, Phelps said. “The time that is most critical is the language arts block in the morning,” Phelps said. “That’s where we’re trying to get creative.” In past years, the school has placed between 25 and 28 students in one class, but typically not as high as 29 in each classroom, Phelps said. In researching other schools’ kindergarten numbers, Phelps called surrounding districts and learned other schools have kindergarten classes with as many as 31 students at Barryton Elementary, and as few as 15 students at Marion Elementary, where the school’s Title One dollars are used solely in kindergarten classes. Evart Elementary School has the second highest kindergarten class size of the six schools Phelps contacted. To help manage large classes, the school is looking into ways to rearrange parapros to spend more time in the classroom along with possibly using the school’s Title One teachers, who currently complete individual student assessments, as helpers in the classrooms. When asked if the school would consider hiring additional teachers to decrease the student-to-teacher ratio, Superintendent Howard Hyde said hiring was not in the district’s plan. The school hopes to have a plan in place this week. In the entire Evart Public Schools district, 970 students are enrolled for the 2012-13 school year. The number is an increase of about 15 students from what the district expected. In other business, the board accepted the resignation of middle school principal Carol Bogner effective Aug. 23. Bogner received a job offer in the Flint area in early August after her husband, Scot, accepted a position as the superintendent of the Goodrich School District in July. An advertisement for the principal’s position was posted in August and runs through Friday. More than 20 individuals already have applied for the position, Hyde said. A committee will be formed to review applications and make a recommendation to the board at an upcoming meeting. A high school math and science teacher’s position also remains unfilled. The board hopes to fill both positions as quickly as possible. The Evart School Board will meet again at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 in the board room at Evart Middle School, located at 321 N. Hemlock St. in Evart.