Enrollment changes across the town's five elementary schools could require the district to hire an additional teacher for the coming school year, a top administrator said Tuesday.
Judith Pandolfo, assistant superintendent for elementary education, told the Board of Education that she expects to need 105 classroom teachers across the five elementary schools. But depending on final enrollments, an extra teacher could be necessary.
"We are watching Hindley School's first grade the most closely. They are one student short of having a fifth section," Pandolfo said.
The enrollment totals may also prompt the district to move one preschool class from Hindley School to Tokeneke School, Pandolfo said, leaving two such sections at Hindley and four at Tokeneke.
Pandolfo based her estimates on student enrollment figures as of Tuesday afternoon. The district uses its Aug. 1 numbers to determine how many teachers to assign at each school and grade level.
Pandolfo encouraged Darien parents to register their children by Friday, July 31 to ensure the most accurate tallies possible. She can be reached at the Board of Education office at 203-656-7413.
As of Tuesday:
- had enrolled 538 students, which would require 24 total teachers. The second grade class currently is six students larger than projected (104 vs. 98), requiring five teachers rather than four.
- had enrolled 436 students, requiring 20 teachers, or one more than projected.
- had enrolled 418 students, requiring 19 teachers. This is two fewer teachers than projected, as the first and second grade classes have enrolled fewer students than expected.
- had enrolled 466 students, requiring 22 teachers as projected.
- had enrolled 406 students, requiring 20 teachers as projected.
Pandolfo said that administrators have been interviewing potential teaching candidates this summer given the possibility of enrollment fluctuations.
"Right now, we are approved for 106 sections," board chairman Kim Westcott said. The board is set to meet early next week to finalize the numbers of teachers.
Board member Heather Shea asked Pandolfo how administrators tally student enrollment figures.
"How comfortable are we with those numbers?" Shea asked. "Are there double-countings? Or have people moved out of the district?"
Pandolfo responded that she keeps a very accurate tally. "We can go by whatever the people in the community do," she said.
Board member George Reilly said he does not want to add another teacher unnecessarily but recognizes that the enrollment numbers may dictate a new hire.
"I encourage the administration to show us where the money would come from," Reilly said.
Clarification: Pandolfo's statement that the district may move one section from Hindley to Tokeneke was referring to an Early Learning Program (preschool) class, not a K-5 section.