Aide to be hired for overcrowded class

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:55

    WEST MILFORD —The kindergarten classes are bulging at Marshall Hill Elementary. The a.m. section has 24 students and the p.m. section has 27 and plenty of parents are angry about it. Mom Abby Beyjoun cited Westbrook Elementary which has three kindergarten classes which have 18 - 19 students apiece. "A kid in a class of 18 isn't getting the same education as a kid in a class of 27." Christine Flynn simply said, "I feel my child is getting gypped." The district, however, is in a very tight spot. Due to the law S-1701, the 2005/2006 budget could only increase by 3 percent. It is a relief to most taxpayers but a burden for most NJ school districts. With rising costs, especially for bus fuel and heating oil, districts have very little discretionary funds for unplanned expenses. Another full-time teacher with benefits represents more money than the West Milford Board of Education is willing to spend. But they admit that 27 and 29 are too many children for one kindergarten class. As a compromise, the board has decided to hire a teacher's aide (who are on a much lower pay scale) for the kindergarten classes. Some parents objected to the solution. Gary Paulter said that kindergarten was a foundation class and expressed concern about the qualifications of an aide. Superintendent Glenn Kamp responded to the parents saying that a teacher plus an aide brought the classroom ration to 14 to one, which he said was even better than Westbrook's 18 and 19 pupil classrooms. He referenced his ten years experience as an elementary teacher and said, "I know an aide would be a tremendous asset." Board member Robert Forian said, "I have 15 years experience in elementary school and I agree with Mr. Kamp." Kamp also said he was confident they would find an aide with far more than the minimum qualifications.