Tuesday night the town council approved $154,200 to add a seventh kindergarten class at the Fort Banks School and move one preschool back to its designated space at the high school.
It was noted that this was a time where the town and school department collaborated to solve a problem.
Superintendent of Schools Lisa Howard said this year a last-minute Influx of nine kindergartners caused the classroom sizes to swell. Right now there are five classes that have 26 students and one class with 27 students. The entire school system has 1,999 students and 127 of them are in kindergarten.
By state law, kindergarten classes can be no larger than 25 students. Since the town was in violation, Councillor-at-Large Phil Boncore said the motion should be an emergency one. The town has approximately $2.5 million in the stabilization fund from which to spend.
Councillor Jim Letteriemade an attempt to reduce the request to $95,000 since $8,000 of fringe benefits is actually in the town’s budget and not the schools.
With the additional funding from the town, a seventh class can be added with preschoolers returning to the high school.
“By adding a seventh classroom we will have 22 students in each class,” Howard said, adding that the only other school system in the state with over 25 kids in a classroom is Fall River. “The goal is also to get all preschoolers back to the space at the high school.”
To fill the new classroom three students will be moved from the existing classes. Howard said it will be like a lottery, but it has to be equitable among general students, English language learners and students with IEPs.
With the new classroom comes a teacher, an ESP, and the preschool will be able to have a speech language pathologist and an occupational therapist.