The Menomonee Falls School District is looking to staff a few additional teacher aides to help in classrooms that are growing a bit larger than anticipated.
On Monday, the district's Director of Human Resources Christiane Standlee requested and received permission to hire an additional aide for a fourth-grade class at . She also sought permission to hire aides for fifth-grade classes at and Valley View elementary schools if they are needed.
The district has already approved aide positions for the Mandarin Chinese language class transition at the high school, and a teaching position for a second-grade class at .
Additional aides were requested due to growing class sizes at the elementary schools. The two fifth-grade classes have 26 students enrolled, and the fourth-grade class has 25. Standlee would continue to monitor class sizes at the fifth-grade level to note any more fluctuations, and determine if aides will ultimately be needed.
“We’ve been comparing projections to this, but it appears we are getting some abnormal glyphs in the data,” Standlee said.
In all, the additional aides would account for less than two Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees. That translates to the total cost of salary and benefits for less than two full time teaching staff members. Additional aides would not change the budget outlook for the upcoming school year, however.
Certain electives at the high school and middle school are also seeing classrooms filled to the brim. These are classes that are offered once a year, and opening another section would increase costs. For example, Technology Education at has more than 30 students.
“We can say these types of classes won’t go over 30 students and tell the two students they can’t take the class and will have to go to study hall,” said Superintendent Patricia Greco. “You either allow them to enroll for the educational opportunity, or you don’t. It happens more often than not, year after year. When you look at averages, that’s what happens.”
The district opted to let the students enroll and accomodate them as needed. However, enrollment numbers often lie as well, Greco said.
“You could have an average class size of 23 and have a very needy group. You could have a class size of 25 and have a very independent group,” Greco said.
Greco added that aides are at-will employees, and are assigned to classrooms by the building principal based on need. They aren't contract employees and when their services are no longer needed, the district can let them go.
The increased enrollment in some sections at the elementary level was notable for the School Board. For the past four years enrollment has been on a steady decline at the district, and it was projected to continue on that course for several more years.
“It would be good to see what’s occurring and causing the uptick in enrollment. Projections had us dropping enrollment significantly over the next few years,” said School Board Member Gina Palazzari.
Earlier this year, enrollment projections indicated the district would shed another 50 students overall. That was offset by allowing a maximum of 30 students to attend Falls through open enrollment. A total of 4,320 students attended school in the district overall.
The enrollment totals for the district at this point are only projections, however. True enrollment totals will not be known until head counts are taken later in September. At that point, the district will have a more accurate picture of enrollment and can adjust staffing of aides from there.