Lyme-Old Lyme schools are adding additional class sections to keep up with a growing population of students in the district.
At a Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Ian Neviaser said that the district needed to add an additional section of 5th grade at Mile Creek Elementary School, increasing the number of sections from two to three.
The school currently has 50 students registered for 5th grade. Neviaser said the maximum class size for the district is 22. Having three sections of 5th grade will keep the class sizes at around 17 students each.
The district also needs to add two new sections of freshman and sophomore English at the high school, which will allow for class sizes of between 18 and 20 students.
Neviaser said at the meeting that 18 new students have registered at the high school since the end of last year. He said that quite a few of those students are freshmen.
Neviaser told CT Examiner that the cost of hiring a new 5th grade teacher would depend on the teacher’s level of experience. The increased cost of the additional English section, which will amount to a .2 increase for a teacher already in the district, will be $9,907.
While the additional staff members were not part of the budget, Neviaser said that the coronavirus relief funds allowed the district to save money that would have gone toward other projects. He said the district should be able to afford the additional expenses “fairly easily.”
Neviaser said the district’s projections for the 2022-23 kindergarten class is 85-90 students, so he did not anticipate needing to keep the additional position for more than one year. But, he said he expected at least one elementary teacher to retire next year, which could give the 5th grade teacher an opportunity to continue working in the district.
Neviaser said he also did not think the district would need to hire a new middle school teacher next year, given that sixth grade is easier to break up within classrooms.
Currently, there are three sections of every grade level at Mile Creek with the exception of kindergarten, which has four sections, and third grade, which has two sections.
The district graduated 116 students last year, and expects to welcome 100 new Kindergarten students.
Neviaser said the district had just posted for the new position for the 5th grade teacher, and had not yet begun interviewing.
In September 2020, Region 18 reported a total of 1,281 students, a decrease of 22 from the previous June. By June of 2021, the district size increased to a total of 1,308 students. Neviaser said he expected to begin the 2021 school year with around 1,300 students.