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More teachers sought for North Hagerstown High School

February 19, 2002

More teachers sought for North Hagerstown High School



By TARA REILLY
tarar@herald-mail.com


Even with the recent redrawing of school boundaries, some North Hagerstown High School classes are likely to be crowded next year, school officials say.

The class size issue has Washington County public school administrators asking for four new teachers for the school to begin the 2002-03 year. The request is part of a fiscal year 2003 budget proposal to hire six additional secondary teachers for the school system.

"North High has the highest student-teacher ratio in the county right now," Director of Secondary Education Boyd J. Michael III said.

Michael said the average class size at North is about "25 plus" students in a class. The school has 68.5 teachers and an enrollment of about 1,302.

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The four additional teachers would bring class size down to about 23 students per class, school officials said.

He's concerned that the needs of low-achieving students at North High, a school that has the highest drop-out rate of all the county's high schools, are not being met because they are in large classes.

The high-achieving students taking Advanced Placement courses are in smaller classes, he said.

"We're getting large groups of kids who all have high needs in all large classes," Michael said. "It's a recipe for disaster."

Linda Fernandez, interim executive director for curriculum and instruction, said North High has "way too many students" who fail basic algebra classes and said size has something to do with it.

A redistricting recommendation before the School Board had proposed sending 220 North High students to South Hagerstown High School.

Instead, it is anticipated that 64 of those students will make the shift, because the School Board is allowing students affected by redistricting who are currently in grades 9, 10, and 11 to stay in their home schools.

On the elementary- and middle-school levels, fourth- and seventh-graders will have that special permission.

School officials said it's possible that more than 64 students in the North High district will make the move to South High, but they won't know for sure until after March 1, which is the deadline to apply for special permission.

School Board President Edward Forrest said if more than 64 students decide to move at the same time, then the staffing request might need further review.

"If all 220 went at one time, they would have to re-evaluate that," Forrest said.

Forrest said he couldn't comment on the need for more teachers at North High because it's an instructional issue that should be raised by school system administrators.

"It really isn't the board's place to make those decisions," Forrest said. "I'm not able to evaluate staffing needs."

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