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Eastchester Schools Will Hire More Aides

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Eastchester School District will hire between eight and 10 aides to help with an unexpected enrollment in kindergarten classes.

Ron Hattar, director of curriculum and instruction for the District, said there are 245 kindergartners at The Waverly School, divided into 10 sections. That means most classes have 24 kids.

Board of Education Vice President Michelle Kissel, who is the liaison for Waverly School, said she wants to reassure parents that the board has become aware of the burgeoning classes and has been exploring ways to deal with it.

"No one is saying that having 24 kids in a kindergarten class is a good number." Kissel said. “This is the beginning of their school career and we want them to come to school and love it."

Hattar said that, although it may seem that the easiest answer would be to add an additional section, there are several obstacles to that idea.

"At this point the kids are set and have bonded to their classmates and teachers," he said. "If a new section were started students from each section would have to be moved and that would be upsetting to the student."

Additionally, Hattar said, a new teacher would have to be hired for a new class. Instead, the district opted to hire more aides so that each class can have a full time aide. Hattar explained that out of the six hour school day, kids are actually in class for four hours and 15 minutes, with an hour lunch and recess and an hour for special classes, such as art, music and gym.

Because teacher aides also spend part of their day as lunch aides, they spend about half of those four hours in the classrooms.

With the unexpected surge of enrollment, new aides will be hired to only work during lunch time for kindergartners and first graders so the classroom aides can spend all of the four hours with teachers and students in class.

Hattar said three weeks before school started there were 219 kids registered for kindergarten, meaning that 26 students were enrolled in the weeks before school started.

Hattar said it will take at least two weeks to make schedule changes and hire new aides.

"The most important thing is to do a complete and thorough background check on any new employees and that takes a little time," he said.

New district employees are required to get fingerprinted and are subjected to a criminal background check.

Going forward, Hattar and Melendez will monitor the classes and may consider adding an 11th kindergarten class next year.

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