Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mize kindergarten numbers spur adjustments

September 21, 2006

When it comes to exploratory classes, Mize Elementary School teacher Elly Geyer is literally doing it all.

Because of the large number of students at Mize this year, Geyer has a new position tailored specifically for kindergartners. She teaches art, physical education, library, music and computers to all kindergartners and a few first-graders.

"It's just because of the larger class sizes," Geyer said. "My job is primary specials, and the kindergartners are all with me."

Geyer taught first grade last year at Mize in a regular classroom setting. When Mize discovered the regular specials teachers wouldn't have enough time in their schedules to see all of the students throughout the week, they added a ¾-time position for kindergarten specials. Riverview and Clear Creek elementary schools in Shawnee have added similar positions.

Mize Principal Pam Hargrove said it wasn't just the additional kindergarten students that required an additional teacher, but added enrollment that brought four new sections throughout the school. There are six sections of kindergarten at Mize this year, six for first grade, four for second grade, five for third grade and four each for fourth and fifth grades.

"Because we added those classes, there was not enough time slots for the other teachers," Hargrove said. "There simply was not enough time in the day."

Most of the specials are about a 30-minute time slot, and the school also has to schedule in planning time.

"It's really important for teachers to have common plan times for assisting instruction," Hargrove said.

She said the additional students have brought Mize's enrollment to about 600 -- just at its capacity. The school's numbers last year at this time were about 538 students. Hargrove said that might change with the construction of a new elementary school at 71st and Chouteau in Shawnee next year.

"Our numbers will change, and we'll re-evaluate and do what we need to," she said. "We're committed to providing these services to kids and we couldn't do it without adding another person."

District communications director Alvie Cater said it had not yet been determined if the boundaries at Mize Elementary School will change next year with the opening of a new elementary and middle school. He said a committee of 19 parents would meet for the next 60 days to make boundary recommendations.

"The plan is to have them present boundary options for Mill Creek Middle School and elementary No. 6 in the month of November," he said.

Cater said the district would have a public meeting in December or January to allow patrons to voice opinions about the boundary changes. The board will make the ultimate determination for the new boundaries.

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