Approval sought for 2 new teachers

By Kim Walter

In order to avoid forfeiting about $80,000 in revenue, the Warren County School Board needs to approve and fill two additional elementary school teaching positions by Dec. 1.

The division receives class size reduction funding from the Virginia Department of Education for three of its five elementary schools in the amount of $422,336. In accepting the funds, the school system agrees to hold class sizes to specific levels set by a funding formula.

Based on the Oct. 1 student enrollment, the class size at E.W. Morrison is above the required level of 23 to 1 in all four first grade classrooms.

The class size at Leslie Fox Keyser is above the required level of 24 to 1 in one of the second grade classrooms, with the remaining classrooms being right at the 24 to 1 level.

In order to remedy the situation and receive the full amount of funding, staff is recommending that the division add a first grade teaching position at E.W. Morrison and a second grade teaching position at Leslie Fox Keyser.

If class sizes aren’t reduced at the two schools, the school system would forfeit $80,618 of revenue.

The cost of two teachers is approximately $110,660.

Greg Drescher, assistant superintendent for instruction, said the positions need to be filled by the first of December in order to receive the funding, which is why staff is seeking approval during the School Board’s Thursday meeting.

“Thankfully we know of a few people who can fill the positions, as long as they’re approved,” he said.

The required class sizes are dependent on how much of a school’s student population qualifies for free and reduced lunches. According to Drescher, schools with more qualifying students tend to require smaller class sizes.

Class sizes and student enrollment can fluctuate for the first several weeks of school, Drescher said, which is why additional teaching positions weren’t suggested until now.

“We were so close to the required levels,” he said. “One of the schools is actually only over the number by one student.”

However, Drescher said that adding the positions would positively impact the entire school. In 2008, the division had to drastically reduce elementary school staff due to budget adjustments.

“It’s just now that we’re finally able to start adding some of those back,” he said.

The two positions would come with an additional cost of $30,042 to the division, which is less than the amount of funding it could potentially lose if the class sizes aren’t adjusted.

Drescher said the cost would be covered with turnover funds that have not yet been earmarked.

“I don’t think we’ll have a problem getting this approved,” he said. “Keeping class sizes low is very important to giving kids the best chance at success, and our school board members understand that.”

The Warren County School Board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in the School Board Administration Building.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com