The Barnum School Board voted not to hire an elementary teacher to replace Mary Bush, who just retired, at the meeting of the board on Tuesday, June 18. Hiring another teacher would keep kindergarten the way it has been and keep three sections of first grade. Sixty-three students are registered for kindergarten, it was said.
“I had a hard time saying that you don’t get a teacher,” said board chair Pat Poirier. “We promised not to take a step back. I understand the money; this is our kids’ education.”
When asked by board member Colleen Fetters why the issue was brought up again after the board had voted to deny hiring another teacher at a previous meeting, the answer was that the budget had not been known at the time.
“We are already half a million in the hole,” said board member Paul Coughlin.
The size of the classes was discussed. One teacher said that she had 23 at one time, and said that it was tough.
“Educationally, it would be a good ratio (to hire another teacher to reduce the class sizes),” said Superintendent Dave Bottem. “I support it. But, financially, that’s something that we can’t afford. This is an important time to have small class sizes. There will be 21 in each section.”
High School Principal Steve Brandt, in his last meeting before retiring, reported that it was the first time that the school district could offer summer school in several years. Videos will be offered with Odyssey software during the summer session.
“When we had Plato, we had to get them from another vendor,” said Brandt. “I think that this will be much more effective for the teachers and for the kids, too.”
For the next school year, state guidelines about attendance policies will be strictly followed and dress codes will be enforced, Brant explained. Teachers will be standing by the doors when students come to school and hand out concealing clothing to students that are not appropriately dressed.
Brandt also said that the use of technology has gotten out of hand in the classrooms. No devices, such as cell phones or MP3 players, will be allowed in the classrooms. The devices can be used before 8:30 a.m., during the lunch hour or after 3:30 p.m.
“If parents have to absolutely get a hold of a child, they can do it at mid-day,” said Brandt.
The board voted to keep the lunch prices the same for the next school year, and voted to accept the 2014 preliminary budget and the 2014 Health and Safety budget.
A special meeting of the board to set goals and discuss a referendum election will be held after the next monthly board meeting on Tuesday, July 16, at 6:30 p.m.