Leonard adding first-grade teacher to address parent concerns over class size

Although September and the school year are well underway, first-graders at Leonard Elementary will soon be seeing a new face in the classroom.

Oxford Schools decided to add a third first-grade teacher to the school after parents expressed concerns that the existing two classes were too large in size.

Deputy Superintendent Ken Weaver and others from the district visited the  classrooms and determined it would be best to bring another teacher aboard for the young students.

“We go in and look at the age of the kids, the need of the kids, location (and) if there’s any solutions that would work within the building,” Weaver said. “We went out there twice, spent probably a total of an hour-and-a-half observing the kids, the teachers interacting and how the classes were interacting.”

An interview process for the new position will take place soon.

Leonard’s current crop of first-graders is larger than the school’s average, so Weaver said it must be decided in the future what this teacher’s role at Leonard will be moving forward. But for now, the first-grade students and teachers will benefit from smaller classes.

The parents first expressed concerns over class sizes at the Aug. 28 school board meeting because the school’s two  first-grade classrooms had 28 students  or  more apiece.

This put the classrooms over the K-2 teacher contract agreement of 27 students with a goal of 25 and, according to the concerned parents, could cause problems in the winter when students have lots of cold weather clothing that requires help from the teacher to put on and take off.

“Oxford is known for their high-quality education, and I hope you’ll consider adding a third section of first grade at Leonard,” said Katie Kobbelman, the parent who spoke on  Aug. 28. “(This will) not only give the kids the ability to grow educationally, but will allow the classrooms to grow with students moving into the district in the new year.”

At the meeting, Weaver assured the parents both he and the board knew about the issue and the school would be visited.

“We are aware of the situation and at Leonard’s first grade, we did temporarily ask (Principal Paul McDevitt to) station a parent in those rooms (to assist students and the teacher) for the time being,” said Weaver at Aug. 28 meeting. “Within a couple of weeks we will be making a decision.”

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