Ocean City Board of Education briefs, edition of Feb. 29, 2012

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The following notes were garnered from the Feb. 22 meeting of the Ocean City Board of Education:

Long Range Facilities Plan

Architect Brooks Garrison of Garrison Architects discussed the district’s 2012-2017, five-year Long Range Facilities Plan, LRFP.

The plan calls for $8,988,249 in spending to upgrade the district’s three facilities, but Garrison said the priority would be $5,097,866 on the primary school.

The primary school, he noted, needs a roof replacement, HVAC upgrades and new exterior windows and doors.

Garrison said a new bond referendum could come as early as September, but after the meeting, Superintendent Kathleen Taylor said the district was not looking to go out for a referendum this year.

 

Negotiations

Board member Joe Clark, chief negotiator for the school board, said negotiations with all three of the district’s unions are “ongoing.” The district is negotiating with the teachers, support staff and the administrators.

Clark said meetings have been scheduled with a mediator concerning the teacher’s union. A mediation session is tentatively scheduled for March 8. Teachers have been working without a contract since June. Several were in attendance at the board meeting.

“Negotiations are moving along well, in a positive manner and we are hoping for a positive settlement,” he said.

 

Is the kindergarten overcrowded?

Kindergarten classes average about 22 students in each of the four classes, and some think that is too many students for one teacher.

“I don’t care how good a teacher you are, it’s like herding cats,” said Dennis Mullen, former president of the school board.

Speaking during public comment, Mullen took umbrage with the fact that teachers were dependent on room mothers, not paid teacher’s aides, for assistance.

“What if they don’t come in? We want people who are trained to be aides. Why not put the mothers in the lunch room and the aides in the classroom? The mothers are probably more qualified to be in the lunchroom than an aide,” he said.

Volunteer mothers are respected, he said, but not the answer.

Parent Jacqueline McAllister said she lived in Manhattan and Washington, DC and was “excited” to move to Ocean City.

“You have the finest education system anywhere,” she said, adding that she was a “humble teacher” who was “so proud” that she was able to move her family to OceanCity, because of the school district.

“I was so defeated to find that there are 22 kids in the class,” she said.

She said that was too many children for one teacher to control. 
“I was horrified,” she said. “There is no way that 22 children is acceptable.”

She said studies show that children in kindergarten through second grade learn more and perform better with smaller class sizes.

“An aide is not good enough,” she said. “Parents are wonderful, but I don’t want them in the classroom. My parents paid $80,000 to educate me at Bucknell. You have to know what you are doing and be certified. Teachers are expensive, but worth it. You have a multi-million budget. I kindly and politely ask you to consider a fifth teacher for kindergarten and keep the class sizes in mind.”

A large contingent of teachers at the meeting applauded after Mullen and McAllister spoke. The board did not comment.

Also during public comment, resident Vic Staniec thanked Superintendent Kathleen Taylor for taking the time to go over class sizes with him.

“She explained to me why we needed an extra teacher at the primary school,” he said, adding that the extra teacher was scheduled to teach first grade next year when this year’s kindergarten class moves up.

After the meeting, Taylor said preliminary enrollment for the kindergarten classes was such that four classes would have 18 students each.

“The number has changed,” she said, adding that it would not be responsible for the district to have allocated funds for five teachers in kindergarten based on the number of students enrolled in August.

 


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