Morris Area Schools will have five sections of kindergarten for the 2019-2020 school year.
The school board approved hiring Tierney Gillespie as the fifth kindergarten teacher during the Aug. 19 board meeting.
Superintendent Troy Ferguson said elementary principal Shane Monson and secondary principal Bill Kehoe have been watching enrollment each week this summer. Enrollment has increased, including six additional kindergarten students in one week, he said.
“We had frank discussions,” Ferguson said of options to use for an increased kindergarten enrollment.
The best option was to add a fifth kindergarten section, he said.
Kindergarten teachers were getting their classrooms ready on Aug. 22 for the first day of school on Sept. 3.
“We love to see the numbers growing,” teacher Shana Ulrich said. The fifth section “(is) what’s best for our kids.”
Ulrich said it’s been a while since the district had five kindergarten sections.
The district hired Gillespie within the past few weeks. Gillespie had been a substitute teacher in the Morris Area District and at others in the region.
“We’re really excited for Tierney to join our group,” kindergarten teacher Jessie Pope said.
Ulrich said because the hiring came so close to the school start, kindergarten teachers have been sharing materials for Gillespie’s classroom.
‘It’s a good thing we collect (material) because we have lots to share,” Ulrich said.
Gillespie was grateful for the shared material. She, too, was preparing her classroom for the start of school.
It took some juggling to open a classroom for the fifth section of kindergarten.
“Where do we put the additional kindergarten section?” board chairwoman Robyn Van Eps asked at the school board meeting.
The original pod for kindergarten had three classrooms and the district has already adjusted for four sections, Monson said.
“We do have room,” Monson said.
Classrooms for preschool, Title and other programs have been adjusted to make room for a fifth kindergarten section, Monson said.
School board member Matt Johnson asked what impact the increased enrollment will have on other programs such as elementary music. “Are we adding another music section?” Johnson asked.
Monson said another section of music and physical education have been added to keep those class sizes doable.