Teachers Added to Reduce Class Sizes, Other Positions Unfilled

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Each of Watertown’s elementary schools received a new teacher to help reduce the size of classes, but the district did not hire all the teachers it had hoped.

Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald discussed school enrollment and new hires at Monday’s School Committee meeting. Hosmer School has 850 students this fall, Lowell School has 388 students and there are 312 children at Cunniff School.

“At each school, class size was something very important to parents – and to all of us,” Fitzgerald said. “Each school got an additional general education teacher to help with class size.”

At Hosmer the teacher is in fourth grade and at the Lowell it went to fifth grade. Without the new teacher, classes in those grades at those schools would have had 25 students each, Fitzgerald said.

At the Cunniff the teacher will instruct small groups of children in math and English Language Arts. The school also started an inclusion class as part of its special education program.

Watertown Middle School has 576 students this fall, which is nearly 60 more than last year, Fitzgerald said. The school got an extra sixth-grade teacher to deal an increase of 56 from last year.

The high school has 708 students this year.

District Human Resources Director Craig Hardimon said the district added positions for the English Language Learner (formerly ESL) program to help children in the program and to meet the state requirements.

The district still has unfilled positions, Hardimon said. Some of areas lacking enough staff included the counseling staff at Cunniff (they have only a half-time position for nearly 300 students), media specialists (only one shared by multiple schools) and custodial staff.

At the high school, the lack of staffing meant that the school could not offer psychology, civics or pre-engineering classes, Hardimon said.

Also, the district did not receive a grant that would have paid for an additional school resource officer.

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