District hires teachers, creates new classes to alleviate overcrowding

Just days after receiving notification of their children’s class placement, some families in West Linn and Wilsonville received word of changes.

Unexpectedly high numbers of last-minute registrations throughout the district led administrators to shuffle class lists, adding new teachers and opening new classrooms to keep class sizes under control.

“The surge in enrollment we have experienced over the past two weeks has provided us an opportunity to hire additional teachers to reduce class size,” Superintendent Bill Rhoades said in a letter to families on Sept. 2.

At Wilsonville’s Lowrie Primary School, Principal Patrick Meigs announced Aug. 28 that the school had added a teacher to lead a blended classroom of second- and FILE PHOTO - The spacious library at Lowrie Primary School easily accommodates the schools growing number of students.

“We were faced with current class sizes of 28 students per second-grade class and 29 students per third-grade class,” Meigs said in a letter to the school community. “Last-minute changes to class placements are not preferred, but we feel the reduction to second- and third-grade class size, for the entire school year, has great benefit for children and their learning.” The new blended classroom was created to reduce class sizes across both grades.

Three days later, on Aug. 31, Meigs announced that another teacher would be joining the staff at Lowrie as the school added a full-day kindergarten classroom. Designed with a student capacity of 500, last year Lowrie accommodated about 450 and is starting the 2013-14 school year with approximately 485, Meigs said.

On the other side of the district, in West Linn, teachers were added at four of the six primary schools. Sunset hired a teacher for a new blended classroom of second- and third-graders. At Trillium Creek, a new kindergarten class was added. Administrators at the schools cited last-minute registrations as the reason for adding teachers to increase the number of classrooms.

At Willamette, where first-grade class numbers rose to 28 and second grade crept to more than 30, a new first- and second-grade blended classroom was added to alleviate overcrowding. At Stafford, two newly hired teachers created classrooms for both first and second grade.

“I am so appreciative of our district for this support of our students and honoring the importance of smaller class sizes,” Stafford Principal Jen Freeborn said.

WL-WV’s director of human resources, Kathe Monroe, said that while the district always experiences some last-minute enrollments, the volume this year was somewhat surprising. Recent new hires have brought the number of full-time equivalent teaching positions, or FTEs, from 444 last May to 470 this month.

“We generally haven’t had this occur, typically,” Monroe said. “But there has been movement in the district, people moving into the district. ... This seems like more than we’ve had in the past, but (it’s) certainly exciting.”

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