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BOE Adds New 3rd Grade Section at Troy Hills School

Board amends policy, pushing back deadline for classroom changes.

The Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education unanimously authorized Thursday night an additional third-grade section at Troy Hills Elementary School. The board approved pushing back the cutoff date for any newly-enrolled students to prompt classroom changes to Oct. 1.

The school board's decision resolved a controversy stemming from a third-grade student enrolling three days after the previous deadline--the second Friday after the opening of school--which moved the size of one section up to 26. The other third-grade section remained at 25 students, the maximum class size in the district for grades kindergarten through fifth grade.

The board, in a 9-0 vote, approved the Oct. 1 deadline and okayed adding one more third-grade section at Troy Hills. To fill the position, the board voted to hire a new teacher to be paid a $48,230 annual salary, pro-rated to begin next Monday.

Board President Frank Calabria, at the conclusion of the 7 p.m. meeting, said the 51 students would be split among the three sections.

Calabria had directed the board's Policy Committee to review the issue after several parents complained about classroom overcrowding at a board meeting two weeks ago.

Troy Hills parent Lisa Kaiser praised the decision.

"On behalf of the third-grade students and parents, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the board," Kaiser said.

Another parent, Sandy Giercyk, said she appreciated the board's responsiveness but noted that the solution might not please everyone. She suggested that some parents might not be happy to find their children transferred into the classroom of a less-experienced teacher. The faculty member hired by the board is a 2010 graduate of Montclair State University.

"While people are thrilled that the class sizes are going down, no one wants their kid to go in with the new teacher," she said.

Giercyk said that under the amended Oct. 1 deadline, "a whole month of school" could go by before students would be transferred to a different teacher.

"There's a good side to the policy and a bad side to the policy," she said.

Superintendent LeRoy Seitz was asked about a similar situation involving the fifth grade at Mount Tabor Elementary School, where one class similarly has 26 students, one above the maximum class size.

Seitz said hiring a new fifth-grade teacher Mount Tabor lacks the additional space  needed to house a new class. The superintendent said the situation will be handled by giving the two fifth-grade sections a "shared instructional aide" to assist the teachers.

In response to a question from township resident Monica Sclafani, Seitz said it is much too early to know whether an additional fourth-grade section at Troy Hills will be needed next year as the students move up. Under the district's policy, the "initial decision" on the number of sections per grade per school is made by June 30 of the previous school year.

Thursday's meeting also included several light moments, such as when Calabria playfully asked audience members to keep their remarks short during the public portion because several colleagues were eager to watch the New York Yankees' playoff game on television.

Amid laughter, Calabria said he wasn't asking for himself and admitted that he is, in fact, a Chicago Cubs fan.

"Do you know what it's like to be a Cubs fan?" asked Calabria, whose team last won the World Series in 1908.

On a more somber note, resident Roy Messmer asked the board to seek a suitable public tribute to well-liked former board member Alan Gordon, who died over the summer.

Sharon Maroldi October 07, 2011 at 09:06 PM
If they have one less student last year, does that teacher get let go? Just curious as to how it works.
parhome October 07, 2011 at 09:15 PM
No other town makes more rules and then breaks them than Parsippany
steve revette October 08, 2011 at 05:35 AM
All I know there might be a bunch of angry people at the next meeting. Next meeting you mgiht have parents from each school wanting something similar.
Monica Sclafani October 08, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Steve - there's no reason for anyone to be angry as the policy (old or new) applies to all the schools in the district.
Monica Sclafani October 08, 2011 at 11:31 AM
There weren't any rules broken here. The Board took a look at the class size policy that we've had in place for many years and decided that some changes were needed to update the policy... Plain and simple!
steve revette October 08, 2011 at 07:40 PM
I understand what your saying Monica. But what if at the enxt meeting you have parents from say eastlake complaining about class size. Say there are parents who want the same thing. How can you tell these parents no but go and do it for Troy Hills.
parhome October 09, 2011 at 01:34 AM
I have to agree with Steve, the flood gates have opened.
Jeffrey Kreitman October 09, 2011 at 12:45 PM
If the class size is exceeding district maximums it needs to be addressed. I recommend any parents with concerns or issues related to their children's education to speak upon their behalf using all avenues available including at the meetings of the board of education. I disagree that the flood gates have opened as this venue was always open. Parents should always advocate for their children's needs no matter what it might be. Go to a meeting and be involved.
Jeffrey Kreitman October 09, 2011 at 12:53 PM
I believe Seitz noted a zero based staffing policy. I believe that during the summer class needs across the district will be reviewed and teachers placed accordingly. I guess if class sizes drop then there is the possibility that the teacher will be let go if there is no need across the entire district.
Monica Sclafani October 09, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Steve ~ if any other elementary school in the district has a grade level of 51 students or more, that grade level will be split into 3 sections. The class size policy has always applied to every school in the district and still does. The exception in this case is that Mt. Tabor does not have the additional classroom space to create a 3rd section in 5th grade. Therefore, they will receive an instructional aide to be shared by the 2 sections. This has also been done in the past in the same situation.
parhome October 09, 2011 at 10:55 PM
This has been done in the past, but not with an October 1st deadline so the situation is different. We will have to budget for at least 2 new teachers. Next, parents will want (and be allowed soon) a say in who is hired or switched for the teaching position. This is a quote from the above article - "While people are thrilled that the class sizes are going down, no one wants their kid to go in with the new teacher," she said.
steve revette October 10, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Yes 123Abc is right. Not to mention The schools shouldn't be telling parents who is and who isn't in special education. Also that teacher should not have been telling the parents that she couldn't do her job because she had to many students. That is something she should have said to the superintendent. And Monica what I am saying is that say this could really cause problems. Because even if there isn't 5 students and is say 47. There are going to be parents who want that extra teacher. By doing this for Troy Hills It gives all the other schools extra options. Like I said before. Honestly I think that teacher should have been removed when she said that to the parents. If you automatically think you can't do something your going to fail everytime. I am happy for Troy Hills. But I hope this doesn't backfire on everybody.
Patsy Kreitman October 10, 2011 at 04:18 PM
To set the record straight: None of the teachers EVER stated they could not do their job as Steve is stating/inferring in his post. The issue is ONLY regarding the class size and has NOTHING to do with whether someone gets the new teacher vs. existing teachers. The only issue that this was about was the class size exceeding current district policy and it had to be addressed.
Patsy Kreitman October 10, 2011 at 04:22 PM
In addition, no teacher asked that class sizes be addressed. It was the parents of the children in the classes. As a group, we agreed that this issue needed to be addressed and determined the best way to bring it to the forefront of discussion.
steve revette October 10, 2011 at 04:23 PM
I could have sworn at the meeting. Not the last one but the one before. The one 3rd grade teacher told the parents she couldn't do her job because she had to many students. I heard it and the other Pat heard it. Unless I mis understood what was said but I don't think I did. But like I said I am happy that there is another teacher.
Patsy Kreitman October 10, 2011 at 04:24 PM
My understanding is that neither of the 3rd grade teachers were at either of the BOE meetings where this issue was discussed.
steve revette October 10, 2011 at 04:29 PM
A parent said it. I forget which one but I remember a parent getting up there and saying that to the board that the teacher told them she was having trouble doing her job with that many students. When pat got up and spoke she said the same thing I am saying now. She said that if this teacher is having trouble she should have gone to the superintendent of schools instead of going and saying it to the parents. So I wasn't the only one who heard it.
Monica Sclafani October 10, 2011 at 05:26 PM
abc/Steve - Sandy, who is a parent in the district, raised the issue that parents might not be pleased that their child would be transferred into the new class, just as an aside and as something to think about. Parents do not have a say in what teacher is hired and it has been my experience that parents do not have a say in what class their child goes into either. In the past, requests have been made by some parents for a specific teacher for various reasons but these requests have not necessarily been honored. I also don't think that the schools are telling parents who is in spec ed. I can't see that happening, as it most likely violates some privacy law.
steve revette October 11, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Monica what I'm saying is that a teacher should not be telling the parents she is having trouble doing her job for any reason. That is something she should have gone to the superintendent about. I double checked with people at the board meeting and they heard it too. I was not the only one who heard it. As far as special education goes. With this district they don't care about special education laws.They do not care about special education kids. When they break a special education rule they would just deny it. I have personally seen this happen.

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