The Mansfield School Committee discussed their budget plans for the coming year on Tuesday during a budget hearing.
During the hearing, every aspect of budget increases was discussed. What stood out, though, was the requests for new personnel at the Jordan Jackson School.
Currently on the school administration's top ten requests, Jordan Jackson has the highest number of requests of any one department. The school also has the highest cost of requests, $130,000 out of a total of $433,280 for the entire budget increase request.
During the meeting, co-principals Kathleen Podesky and Teresa Murphy discussed why the school needed that additional staff (as well as two other positions that didn't make it to the administration's top ten list.
“At the top of our list is to add a fourth and fifth grade teacher because of class sizes and reductions that we’ve had to deal with over the past couple of years,” Murphy said. “We intend to do that internally.”
Currently, class sizes in grades four and five are too large, according to Podesky. The principals agreed that a new teacher for each grade would alleviate that concern, bringing class sizes from 29-30 students per teacher to 26-27 students in both grades.
The fourth grade teacher will not be an additional cost to the budget, because the teacher is being transferred from Robinson because of lower enrollment. The cost of the full-time fifth grade teacher is currently estimated at $45,000 for the fiscal year.
“That’s how we’re hoping to restore two classrooms,” Podesky said.
The rooms the new teachers would be assigned to would also need materials, such as chairs, desks Smartboard, etc. with an estimated cost of an additional $10,000.
Jordan Jackson is also requesting a School Adjustment Counselor/ School Psychologist.
“We really need the support of the adjustment counselors and the school psychologist,” Murphy said. “That request for a staff member absolutely meets our needs.”
Murphy added that the position meets three current school improvement goals, which are to improve the strong sense of community among all students, to create a peaceful and positive environment and to provide support and education to the school’s staff and students.
One other request that the two principals said they needed, but did not make the top ten, is a replacement for a math coach at the Academic Learning Center. The old math coach retired in June 2011, and, Murphy and Podesky said, was sorely needed.