District Requests More Staff to Help in Growing Classrooms

Some help may be needed at the elementary level as some class sizes could reach 26 students.

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.

Craig August 28, 2012 at 07:05 PM
If class sizes are getting too large, then hire teachers. When class sizes are getting to low, lay-off teachers. Isn't this how the service sector works? Why hire teacher aides, and make an excuse that they are easier to let them go? Seems to me that the teacher is the asset in the classroom, the aide does little to enhance the child's education.
W . Benz August 28, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Some more hiring of friends thats what this is all about . Hire 1 full-time certified teacher if you need too . Better yet have some of your over paid administrators fill in on a temp rotation for the year .
Craig August 28, 2012 at 08:14 PM
There is an idea even Ward and June would be proud of! Use the top heavy Administrators in the classroom, instead of warming a padded seat in the front office. Imagine if ER's started using nurses aides rather than Dr.'s when the patient load was overwhelming....wait- that might happen under ObamaCare. But you get the point.
Hershal Webster August 29, 2012 at 03:45 AM
When I was in High School our Vice Principal taught Phys. Ed. and was the varsity wrestling coach, he did all 3 very well. It was a fairly large school with good results.
Michele Divelbiss August 29, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I actually missed yesterday's meeting for a family trip, but I was aware this was on the agenda. It wasn't an aide hired at Valley View for second grade, it was a third teacher. So Valley View will have 3 5K, 3 1st grade, 3 2nd grade, 3 3rd grade, and 2 each for 4th and 5th grade. So we are 2 classes up from where we were 2 years ago. These were sound administrative recommendations to the board. They are putting students needs at the forefront and still managing the budget well enough that we will have a second year of lower taxes, while surrounding communities are having to increase their levies. sussex.patch.com/articles/hamilton-school-taxes-expected-to-rise-2-8-under-new-budget Craig and Eddie, please feel free to make a visit to Valley View. Better yet, sign up to volunteer. I really think you could benefit from a "front row seat", so you could then make some informed comments about our schools.
Craig August 29, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Michelle: Just to be clear, are you saying you do not think the district is heavy on administration? and You are in favor of teacher's aides rather than additional teachers when class sizes grow to higher levels?
Michele Divelbiss August 29, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I can't think of any administrative person I would cut. We're talking about what is equivalent to a small company, and with the Baldridge model, they are running pretty efficiently. We have a Business Director, or CFO, that does the finances, is responsible for the transportation. We have a director of technology and assessment who made sure we have a network that will actually allow 21 Century teaching/learning to occur. We have a curriculum director and a pupil services director. Their jobs are unique and all necessary. It's not like we're a company with 5 Marketing VP's. I'm thrilled they were able to add another 2nd grade at Valley View, since my daughter is in second grade and will benefit from a smaller class size. My twins are in 5th, however, and I don't see them being able to add another section there, so more aide time is the practical solution. It's not just a matter of hiring a teacher, it's having the physical resources of an additional classroom, books, furniture, etc. Class sizes change over the course of a year with move-ins and move-outs. With school starting next week, the administration has done the best they can to insure appropriate size classes and give the support where it's needed. We are very lucky to have some great aides in our district, and I'm sure that will continue.
Craig August 29, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Thanks for the clarification. Don't get me wrong, I am not against teacher's aides. The article stated, "They aren't contract employees and when their services are no longer needed, the district can let them go." Is this not the same case with a teacher?
Michele Divelbiss August 29, 2012 at 05:28 AM
I think you're reading too much into that comment. The district staffs its teachers based on the student population. Some teachers are lucky enough to stay in one grade for years, but the district administration can assign them however they need to. It will be interesting to watch the numbers of new families moving into the falls and the new incoming Kindergarten classes. We want families to see Menomonee Falls as a desirable place to live and send their kids to school. Our public schools are dependent on a strong private sector economy that then drives our real estate market. If it is new move ins that are pushing numbers up that's a good thing. Menomonee Falls has a large senior population, but is ripe for a transition to younger families moving in. This is something the administration is closely monitoring.
mary mccarthy August 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I would be interested in learning more about the teachers aide positions. I am a retired teacher . mary


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